UK automotive needs more overseas suppliers to be globally competitive, says Jaguar Land Rover purchasing boss

11 June 2014 #SMMT News


More needs to be done to encourage overseas automotive suppliers to the UK if its automotive industry is to become truly competitive on a global scale, according to Jaguar Land Rover’s Director of Purchasing.

Speaking at the SMMT International Automotive Summit at Canary Wharf, Ian Harnett tempered his optimism at JLR’s current success – the firm’s annual worldwide sales now exceed 400,000 – with an assertion that reshoring the UK automotive supply chain is a serious issue faced by the industry.

“We need a strong UK plc to attract quality global component suppliers to the UK,” said Harnett.

“To do this, there has to be a competitive environment for investment – and we also want UK-based suppliers to have access to finance to enable them to invest and grow.”

Around 50% of JLR’s components are presently UK-sourced – more than the national average of around one third.

Harnett also attributed a large share of the challenge facing the UK automotive supply chain to a lack of skilled youngsters coming into the industry, not only in engineering but also in areas such as purchasing and logistics. In his own purchasing department, there are currently over 100 vacancies he is looking to fill.

“A career in automotive manufacturing is currently perceived as being insufficiently interesting for many youngsters, who’d prefer a career in the arts or the City,” he said. “We must get our youngsters to want to invent, and to make things, again.”

Across the whole industry, tens of thousands of skilled roles are set to become available between now and the end of the decade.

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