An article by Miren Loyola, Director of Velatia´s Corporate Services
“170,000 people work in the industrial sector, which represents 18.7% of the total number of people employed in the Basque Country. It is essential to recognise those agents who, with hard work and perseverance, have managed to establish successful industrial business models in order to achieve new success stories that will continue to guide us along the path of economic growth and, consequently, of the welfare state”
“It is important to take a look at what we were in order to understand what we are”
This statement, which could well be found in a self-help book, nevertheless fits in perfectly with the economic model and dynamics of our society, and even more so when we are talking about a region with a history as closely linked to industry as the Basque Country. A region where, although it breathes industry and product, we have seen a diminishing consideration of a sector that represents almost a quarter of our gross domestic product and which has made us a very attractive competitive pole for economic activity.
Those of us who were born and grew up among metal shavings and with the noise of machinery as a soundtrack may have a special sensitivity to this manufacturing reality, but the truth is that, personal experiences aside, our history is full of courageous business adventures that ended up becoming great industrial realities. It is impossible to list them all, but I am sure that you, dear reader, can think of one or two examples. This industrial footprint is part and parcel of our culture; it is impossible to explain the model of our society and its complexity without finding in industry the catalyst for the great changes we have experienced.
Perhaps, and going against the mantra that we Basques are “much about doing and not much about telling”, it is time to showcase these adventures and publicise the capacity of industry to drive the economy and improve our quality of life. Perhaps, and only perhaps, it is time for our young people, with an emphasis on our young women, to learn about and explore the possibilities that the secondary sector offers for their professional and personal development, and how they will find specialised, stable and higher paying jobs in it than other much more “trendy” and “cool” jobs that are now in the limelight. It should be noted at this point that 170,000 people work in the industrial sector, which represents 18.7% of the total number of people employed in the Basque Country.
Because our unfinished business is to make the industry fashionable, and that means giving value to telling as well as making.
Perhaps the older generations should also examine our consciences, because we have not been able to convey to our children that the future is not to be a youtuber, but to be a welder. It is possible that, as a result of the multiple industrial crises (naval, steel or paper crises, to name but a few), our children saw industry as a bad place to go. Perhaps they even heard the admonition “my son (or my daughter), you must study, so you won’t go to the factory”.
This is why now is the time to intensify our commitment to Basque industry, promoting initiatives of a distinctive nature that will enable us to meet new industrial needs and realities and tackle major social challenges.
We must set the course, decisively and firmly, towards the generation of clean energies, the electrification of transport networks and the digitalisation and modernisation of our industry and society. We should also continue to reform our industrial fabric, promoting a high value-added chain that will allow us to continue to grow our exports and keep us away from a war of competition with developing countries, a situation that would only make our economy vulnerable. The answer lies not in a simple increase in production, but in a vital technological scaling-up of industrial services.
In this sense, we must reinforce the progress of our industrial sector towards greater use of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the use of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. These are realities, not trends, which today are still far from being widespread throughout the industrial fabric of our country.
Of course we need change. But these changes cannot come only through the isolated efforts of a few, but through the decisive collaboration between all the stakeholders involved in the value chain. It is necessary for public institutions, companies, educational centres and sectoral organisations to further strengthen our channels of collaboration, generating real and solid initiatives over time. Initiatives such as the Biscayan “Industria Erronka”, through which we raise awareness of the importance of the industrial sector among our young people, should serve as an inspiration for us to continue working to generate a favourable ecosystem to underpin and increase the importance of our secondary sector.
But this is not all. We must also trust in those agents who, with hard work and perseverance, have managed to establish successful industrial business models in order to achieve new success stories that will continue to guide us along the path of economic growth and, consequently, the welfare state. Listening to the benchmarks in our environment is a compulsory subject in order to consolidate a successful long-term strategy. As part of a family, industrial and technological project such as Velatia, with a long history of more than fifty-five years in the world of energy and communications networks, I firmly believe in the vital importance of supporting, protecting and listening to our rich industrial fabric and to those who, day by day, place their talent at its disposal. Because they are our adventurers, let us not forget that.
Our great challenge is to believe again in what we are, being aware of the great opportunity we have ahead of us despite the adversities. A situation that is hardly exceptional and is reminiscent of other historic moments we have already experienced. Let us once again trust in our adventurers and let us make the industry fashionable: it is our duty.
An article published on Deusto Business Alumni newsletter