The UK needs to focus on “real” engineering such as the automotive industry, rather than the financial sector, in order to beat the recession, according to former McLaren F1 team boss Ron Dennis.
Dennis, Executive Chairman, McLaren Group and McLaren Automotive, was speaking at an automotive industry reception at the Houses of Parliament.
He believes that boosting the UK’s manufacturing output is the best way to secure long-term sustainable growth for the economy. “If we do not build our industrial market [share], Britain will simply be unable to generate the growth and wealth it needs to ensure a return to prosperity for our people,” said Dennis.
Dennis said that since the early 1990s the UK has focused too much on financial services, neglected manufacturing and has now fallen behind its competitors.
He cited the example of Japan where the government has aggressively invested in research and development – a step that has seen Toyota top the car manufacturers' global R&D league table with an annual investment of £6.4 billion.
Dennis called for a four-point plan to boost British industry revolving around education, investment in R&D, greater participation between companies and government, and "daring to be different".
He added: “It is up to all of us, as employers, as colleagues, as parents and as a government, to reignite in young people a sense of passion in studying science, technology, engineering and maths, in order to open up more employment opportunities in those areas.
He suggested that science graduates be reimbursed part of their student loans after they have worked in a British-based science or engineering role for three years.
This would be paid for by tax concessions against profits for the companies employing the students.
McLaren Automotive was formed in 1989 and is responsible for the McLaren F1 and the new MP4-12C.