Vision of experts
In 2012, 15 experts – some renowned figures (with an economical, scientific, sociological, philosophical, or even artistic background) - devoted an in-depth thinking of an innovative and realistic view of a plant integrated into the cities of tomorrow.
Through qualitative interviews with IFOP Institute, the experts provided a spectrum of different views on French industry and contributed with their own visions of the industrial plants of the future.
Expert perspectives on French industry
The experts underlined the crisis that is now gripping French industry as a result of numerous restrictive measures that have compromised its vitality and growth.
French industry is now beset by:
- financial constraints imposed by the cost of labor, the tax burden and chronic underinvestment
- structural constraints imposed by governmental inflexibility, the inequality with which VSEs and SMEs are treated compared with major big companies, and the preferential encouragement of a service-based economy at the expense of a production economy
- social constraints imposed by pressure from trade unions and their fierce defense to protect the 35 hour week
- cultural constraints imposed by failures in education, poor foreign language skills and a lack of openness to international attitudes
A country that only lives with services and tertiary sector businesses… In my opinion, lacks of something fundamental. I think the economy would be extremely damaged because we would be totally dependent on other countries to provide all essential goods.
Expert in Industry
According to the experts, these constraints affect the competitiveness of French industry. Industry also suffers from a negative image and must confront the mistrust of public authorities and communities.
The origin of industry’s lack of appeal is rooted in:
- environmental factors linked to pollution and noise, visual amenity and odor issues raised by industrial activity
- cultural and social factors linked to the devalued profile of industrial jobs, all the way from laborers to executives
Nevertheless, the experts also believe that there are new positive prospects opening up for French industry. These include:
- relocation initiatives driven by increasing production costs in emerging countries and quality issues with the products they manufacture
- an increasing awareness of the challenges and usefulness of production facilities based in France.
French industry also has many strengths, including:
- the quality of its labor force, production and infrastructures, as well as its strong innovation capabilities
- the integration of environmental constraints when implementing processes
During interviews, experts also referred to a series of fundamental and strategically important challenges essential to French reindustrialization. French industry is distinctive for:
- the excellence of its processes at all levels
- the high level of added value in France and that benefits its industry sectors in terms of technology and image
- the support it provides for SMEs and SMIs, in the same way as the policy applied in Germany
Lastly, some experts preferred the expression ‘Made in France’ to the term ‘Made in Europe’ on the basis that it is a better reflection of today's political and economic reality.
The image of the industrial plant and its future
Today, the goal is to have production sites which are flexible, as a production site is an ecosystem formed by a flow of information and knowledge.
Expert in Industry
Industrial plants generally have a very negative image characterized by challenging working conditions and employer/employee conflicts.
Nevertheless, some experts underlined examples of progress made in industrial plants, quoting the modernization of premises and process organizational structures that make the term ‘plant’ obsolete. The industrial plant of today and tomorrow is becoming much more of a ‘production site’.
Jobs in industrial plants also have a double image: although some experts refer to the loss of appeal suffered by jobs in industrial plants and the resulting employability issues, others highlight the level of training and career diversity.
The experts believe that the development of tomorrow's industrial plants depends on the ability of industry to:
- put all stakeholders - local politicians, social organizations, local communities, etc. - at the heart of its industrial plans
- create dynamic new cross-disciplinary opportunities for jobs in industry
- integrate industrial plants aesthetically into the surrounding landscape
- control the environmental impact imposed by industrial activity
- adapt industrial operating methods and organizational structures to the realities of the digital revolution