Since low value assembly work shifted away from Western Europe around the turn of the millennium, the UK electronics industry has focused on high value products for the medical, power generation and wider industrial markets. Despite having shed some of its production capabilities, the UK has also become one of the leading locations for microchip design. Today, with a gross value added per employee of £67,547, the sector is one of the most productive in the economy and employs over 200,000 people.
Ultimately, electronics is of comparable or greater importance to the industrial economy than the automotive, pharmaceutical and aerospace sectors, yet receives far less attention. What’s more worrying is that in an intensely competitive industry the British electronics sector is in danger of losing serious ground to our international competitors. Selling Circuits Short is a wake-up call for the government. In their analysis of the electronics industry Stephen Clarke and Georgia Plank uncover the biggest barriers to the sector’s future success: a lack of support for manufacturing, the scarcity of finance for expansion, falling numbers of skilled staff and a lack of government understanding.
Using data from leading market research firms, Selling Circuits Short shows that the British electronics sector is at a crossroads. The industry is in a good position to take advantage of growth in the markets where it is a dominant force but this will not happen unless the government addresses the challenges facing the sector.
Every successful industrial economy has sought and developed a successful electronics industry; the UK neglects electronics at its peril.