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Blog Post By Brendan Perring

Less words, more action

The cornucopia of flashing lights, the mechanical buzz of routers, the smell of solvent on vinyl and the touch of textiles are just some of the sights, sounds, smells and sensations that will greet your senses as you walk through the door of this years Sign and Digital UK exhibition.

However, the most important sense to keep keenly aware off in any exhibition is your business sense. The drive behind any exhibitor is to sell and the motivation for any visitor is to get the best product at the best price available. So, it is the balance and tension between these two competing elements that ultimately make exhibitions so vital for any industry and hark back to a market tradition in the United Kingdom that extends back into pre-history.

The other major impetus for such gatherings is the desire to buy a product face to face, rather than over the phone or from a website, combined with the excitement of the new technology on show and the hunt for that ever elusive bargain.

Positive signs

With the elements above in mind, setting Sign and Digital UK into its wider economic context is important. This is because any decision to invest in a new product or service for most companies is a calculated risk based on confidence in the sectors growth. To this end there have been some positive predictions from Equifax’s latest business report, showing that the first quarter of this year saw a drop in manufacturing business failures of 18.9 percent from the same period in 2010, down 90 from 475.

This figure becomes even more positive when it is combined with the latest finding from the Office for National Statics, which released figures this month showing that manufacturing output rose by 6.8 percent over the last year.

The impetus behind these figures has been a steady increase in investment in manufacturing over the last year, as the Government seeks to rein in the banks worst excesses and promote the long neglected UK’s manufacturing and associated sectors. Indeed, according to the latest Markit and Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply survey, the UK’s industrial economy saw record growth in February and March.

Pointing the way

Government investment in our industry via apprenticeships, business loans and training has also been prompted by lobbying from organisations such as ProSkills, the UK’s sector skills council for the process and manufacturing sector.

Indeed, Proskill’s chief executive officer Terry Watts has been more active than most in arguing for more Government support. He outlined his vision for economic prosperity following the latest White Paper published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – headed by Business Secretary Vince Cable.

“Changing the infrastructure of skills within British manufacturing must take priority, there is too much bureaucracy, too much money wasted and not enough decisions made with proper consultation from representatives of all areas of British manufacturing.

Watts continued: “British manufacturing needs to be listened to now. We want a flexible and sectoral approach to developing apprenticeships that meet employer needs, we want realigned systems of Government funding and support to replace the current ones that often restrict the development of skills rather than improve, and most importantly, we need to ensure that supply chains across the economy are supported and encouraged, rather than abandoned in favour of importing goods from abroad.  This is the only way that British manufacturing will continue to be globally competitive, and it is only through having an elite workforce that produces the very best products that this can be achieved.”

A word of thanks

Speaking with many of our readers this month, and being invited to be a judge for the Sign and Digital UK awards, I have been stuck by how many sign-makers, suppliers, technology developers and manufacturers really are proud of what they produce and have a positive desire to grow their business. This spirit combined with the Government doing less talking and taking more action in the year ahead could spell a really positive continued trend of economic growth.

Otherwise, with SignLink’s biggest ever edition thankfully completed and with a plethora of news, features, comment and interviews at your finger tips, I wish you happy reading.  I would also like to give special thanks to all of our journalists, contributors and advertisers for their support and hard work to produce a magazine I am very proud of.
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