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How will the ESCO report be used?

ESCO has taken the job of defining the UK's electronic systems sector seriously. Alongside the due diligence of researching the size and impact of the sector, it has examined manufacturing, skills, innovation and supply chain issues, as well as how the industry should be represented.

With all that information to hand, what's the next step? "We're building towards a launch of the programme in October," said Derek Boyd, chief executive of NMI and ESCO working group leader. "The question now is what should the message be?"

But why was there the need for something like the ESCO initiative in the first place? One reason, according to Boyd, is that it was, in part, an admission that the UK's electronics industry is not doing a good enough job to be noticed by the Government. "We're also determing how the UK's electronic systems community can be most effective," he noted.

One thing which Boyd wants to avoid is the ESCO report being just another look at the UK's electronics industry. "There have been many reports published which had some relevance to the UK's electronics industry," he said. "We don't wan't to produce our report and simply walk away. We want the ESCO report to enable a strategic change in the industry."

What does he mean by 'strategic change'? "We see our work as being about more than just producing a report. Our intent is for there to be continuity for the future in a range of ways which will move the industry forward."
Once the report appears on industry minister Mark Prisk's desk – publication of the report is scheduled for October 2012 – it's likely the hard work will start.

"For example," Boyd said, "we have to determine how we represent the message and how we take it forward. We have to recommend how the UK's electronic systems community can be most effective. We all agree the UK has a competitive, leading edge industrial sector, but we also agree that it is a sector which could do even better. Our work will be about making a fit industry fitter and about making the industry take responsibility for its future."

One positive sign for ESCO is that it may be easier to put its recommendations into action than it has been with previous reports. The reason? There is general support for the work across the industry; the major trade associations, professional bodies and skills organisations are all playing central roles in the workgroups. As Boyd noted: "It's one of the first times there has been this kind of cooperative activity across the electronics industry."

"This initiative provides a great opportunity to highlight the importance of electronic systems in the UK, to redefine the electronics industry in its continued transformation and to foster a leaner, stronger and world leading ecosystem," he concluded.

Graham Pitcher

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