Senior Warden, Dame Julie Kenny, who will be Master Cutler next year, said South Yorkshire businesses were investing in green energy, prioritising recovery, rebuilding workforces and ‘creating opportunities for all’.
But they were beset by problems and it was time for the Government to set a ‘bold, new, brave vision’.
The Feast, at the Cutlers’ Hall on Church Street, was organised by the 398-year-old Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire and attended by hundreds of senior figures including minister for manufacturing Lee Rowley MP.
Addressing him directly, she said: “May I thank you for coming to deliver the keynote speech and say to you that manufacturing is the sector to back.”
The ninth biggest in the world, it provides £183billion of output, 2.5m jobs, salaries 12 per cent higher than average and £31bn of investment into the economy each year, she added.
And it is a ‘great, vibrant, contributor to the UK’.
But it was facing a labour and skills shortage, supply chain disruption and uncertainty due to the pandemic and war in Ukraine - as well as rising prices and interest rates.
Many manufacturers are intensive users of energy but costs were ‘spiralling’, she added, and it was time for Government to take action.
“We are already operating in the context of historically high electricity costs, and the recent gas commodity crisis has sent energy prices spiralling.
“Electricity wholesale and gas prices have increased between eight and 10 times compared to a year ago and even these prices are not fixed.
“To manufacturers’ dismay energy prices are predicted to increase a further five-fold from today’s prices and could stay at that level until 2024.”
She also called for government to limit the tax burden on business and introduce an employer training fund to tackle labour and skills shortages.
She concluded: “Manufacturing is vital for our future prosperity now more than ever. We will see new industries springing up and as manufacturers we will build a bigger and better economy, stronger, more productive, and greener.
"We do and will create wealth. The future is incredibly bright minister, and with your help, the future is here with us.”