My day spent with Nick Groom and his team at Qualiturn Products was fascinating, and it was extremely encouraging to see a family manufacturing business thriving and investing in the future.
Founded in 1974 by Bernard Groom and based in Hertford, Qualiturn Products supplies precision mill-turned components. It has a small but expanding overseas customer base and is a business which defies the critics of UK manufacturing.
During the day, I learnt about the markets and the range of businesses at which precision mill-turned components are aimed. Qualiturn is a company committed to investing in new equipment, with a positive approach to training and supporting staff. It is also a great example of a business which knows its market, and I was reminded of the importance of forward investment when I toured the factory facilities. Nick and his team have kept ahead of the competition and they had a great year in 2010.
The need to encourage small businesses to invest in capital, and the importance of making it easier for SMEs to hire apprentices, were two vital points made to me by Nick during the day. Nick was encouraged by our plans to increase apprenticeship places and we now need to work hard to clearly spell out these plans so that every busy small-business owner is aware of the new apprenticeships being created. By 2014-15 there will be funding for 75,000 more adults to start an apprenticeship than under the previous government’s plans.
As with my other work experience days, I have been greatly encouraged by the hard work and enthusiasm of the businesses I have visited. Despite some of the negative messages in the media, manufacturing in Britain is beating the competition.
My job in government is to help our all small firms as much as possible. At the start of the year, we announced significant changes to the way information, guidance and advice to business is provided. I believe this will help us create the conditions for firms such as Qualiturn to grow, deliver new jobs and help transform our economy.
It is small businesses that will drive sustainable economic growth, and I want to send a message that the government will be delivering the support, information and advice that they require to succeed.