Ministers should learn lessons from German industry if they want to re-balance the economy to boost manufacturing, the TUC has urged.
A report from the union organisation highlighted different approaches between the two countries, with Germany giving more support to medium-sized companies, which were the "backbone" of its economy.
The emphasis in the UK was on large firms and on the very smallest organisations, with "little thought" given to those in between, said the TUC.
UK graduates were less likely to to choose a career in industry than their German counterparts, while apprenticeships were more widespread in Germany, it was noted.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "The Government has got to adopt a smarter, more intelligent approach to the development of its industrial policy.
"The UK economy is crying out for assistance and a revival in our manufacturing sector, and less of a dependence on the financial sector, will be a crucial factor in delivering growth and creating thousands of much-needed jobs.
"Too much of government policy has amounted to little more than tinkering at the edges, when what we really need to deliver a vibrant industrial sector is a new active, interventionist approach to manufacturing.
"The UK has much to learn from Germany - it is the powerhouse of the European economy and its politicians have never lost sight of the value of their manufacturing sector.
"But it's not too late for British manufacturing.
He concluded: "A new approach to skills, investment and procurement could help bring the UK back to its rightful place as one of the major manufacturing nations of the world."