They must have more confidence in the government in the UK than we do in the US. That’s one conclusion to draw from recent comments by Wolfgang Schreiber, chief executive of Bentley Motors, the high-end luxury automaker, where he basically asked for the British government to lend a helping hand to the auto industry.
Speaking to Louise Armitstead, a reporter with the UK newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, Schreiber said, rather matter-of-factly, “The supply chain here in the UK is not good enough for being robust enough for the future.” By the supply chain, he’s talking specifically about “less sophisticated areas, like making basic metal parts, sealants, rubber parts.” (Read the full story at Telegraph.co.uk.)
Part of Schreiber’s lament is a familiar one to US manufacturers: There aren’t enough skilled workers available to fill all the high-tech jobs the auto industry now requires (mechatronics, for instance). And his call for policies that support the creation of technical schools and colleges that would offer training in these much-needed skills makes sense, too.
But meanwhile, Bentley saw third-quarter sales grow by 9%, enjoyed a 22% jump in annual sales last year and is looking at another double-digit-percentage growth this year, and that’s on top of the company having recently introduced a new luxury car for the Chinese market. If ever there was a company that you’d think would be able to champion the ability of private enterprises to develop their own talent, funded from their own resources, Bentley would seem to fit that model.
To his credit, though, Schreiber is very much a stickler for “Made in England” production, as this Daily Telegraph sidebar points out. When Volkswagen, Bentley’s parent company, wanted to offshore production of a new SUV to Slovakia, Schreiber said, no. “I knew that our customers want a real Bentley, and a real Bentley comes from the UK, from Crewe, made by our people here.” So at least you get the sense that he supports his local supply chain… he’d just like the government to kick in a little bit more, too.