Time for the electronics industry to take the initiative

1 min read

Having been part of the electronics industry for more than 35 years, I have developed a deep affection for the technology. But I find the current trend to focus on applications, rather than what enables those applications, to be slightly more than disturbing.

In what increasingly seems to be a modern version of Newspeak, ‘technology’ is being used in an entirely different way to how it once was – something I’ve talked about elsewhere.

I had hoped the Government’s Green Paper – Building our Industrial Strategy – might provide an opportunity to focus once again on what goes on ‘under the hood’ and to provide a boost to those developing electronics technology in the UK. But no; the future role to be played by the UK’s electronics sector – rather than those who use what the electronics sector creates – remains unclear and a worrying sign is that the word ‘electronics’ is used just once in the Green Paper’s 132 pages.

One of the contributory factors is the UK electronics industry’s continuing inability to talk with one voice, as well as its apparent reluctance to wave its own flag. More than 1million people in the UK are dependent upon electronics for their living and the sector is said to contribute something like £100billion a year to the economy, yet electronics remains all but invisible.

The auto industry, by contrast, contributes £71bn a year to the economy and employs about 800,000, according to the SMMT – its industry association. Cars, however, get far more air time than electronics.

Tony King-Smith, recently appointed as CEO of the Electronics Systems Community, said: “We, as an industry, need to do a much better job of relating how electronics, electrical and embedded software impact events and issues that interest the person in the street.”

He might have added that we, as an industry, need to be in Government’s face because, if you look at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s website, not one minister has explicit responsibility for the UK’s electronics sector.