ESCO Report targets 55% growth in electronic systems sector by 2020

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With the right support and a robust strategy in place, the UK electronics systems sector could see significant growth over the next few years, according to the ESCO Report. The report – to be published on 27 June, following 18 months of consultation – says the sector could be contributing £120billion per annum to the UK economy by 2020, as well as creating another 150,000 skilled jobs.

Jamie Urquhart, pictured, who chaired the ESCO Steering Group, says in the report: "We are setting ourselves two stretch targets: that, by 2020, our UK employment will grow from 856,000 to 1million; and our economic contribution will grow from £78bn today to £120bn. We will deliver this by focusing on: building recognition of this strategically important key enabling technology sector; accelerating growth in the UK vertical sectors as a result of the use of UK Electronic Systems; and developing and exploiting UK Electronic Systems capabilities, nationally and globally." The report makes several key recommendations – including measures to improve supply chains and strategic procurement and the skills pipeline – while calling for the formation of a 'think tank' to identify future growth sectors. The report also warns that failure to take immediate action on these recommendations will have implications for the competitiveness of every industrial sector and for the UK economy. Its recommendation is for a long term strategic approach between government and industry to put in place an ecosystem to encourage the investment and entrepreneurship that will trigger the rise of high growth enterprises. Urquhart added: "Sustained action and a strategic long term partnership with government is required. By working together, industry, academia, government and public sector bodies can deliver results. However, it cannot be left to government to improve the future prospects of the industry. We believe our future is in our hands and I call on the sector to rally resources behind the leading organisations driving developments forward." Identifying skills as a critical issue, the report says 'there is a real need to increase the number of bright young people considering careers in the Electronic Systems Community and a particular opportunity to address the gender imbalance. The industry needs to increase coordinated activity reviewing ways to 'inform and excite' young people about working in the industry'. The goal, says the report, is to develop a skills base that provides UK industry with the resources required to take advantage of future markets. However, it points out this will require concerted action by industry, academia and government across a broad range of skills challenges. Concluding, the report says 'to enable the industry to achieve its full potential, we must tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities outlined in this report together'.