UK Manufacturing Industry Remains Strong Despite Challenges

There is a perception that the UK Manufacturing industry is struggling, still seemingly recovering from issues in the 1970s around working practices and a non-competitive labour force.

This perception is not helped by what some have described as a “twin squeeze” from an education system focussing on a degree-for-all rather than towards technical careers, and a post-Brexit immigration policy that may prevent skilled immigrants from working in Britain.

Despite these challenges, James Selka, CEO of the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA), champions the industry:

The UK has a thriving automotive sector. We make twice as many engines as we do cars, and we make more cars than Italy

Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows a total of 147,922 cars were produced last month compared with 137,552 in January 2016, the best January performance since 2008, according to the SMMT.

SMMT added that export demand was strong. A total of 117,916 British-built cars were shipped overseas last month compared with 106,441 in the same month last year – an increase of 10.8%.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “These latest results highlight, once again, the export-led nature of our industry and the global appeal of our products”.

During the last twenty years we have experienced a quiet revolution in the growth of advanced manufacturing in the UK. Nissan is a shining example of this. Tata Technologies and McLaren are others MTA’s Selka continued.

Official figures suggest that manufacturing contributes around 10% to UK GDP.

Concerning the industry’s prospects, Hawes said: “Future growth will depend upon maintaining our competitiveness, not least in terms of securing a future trade deal with the EU that allows us tariff-free access to our biggest market and the ability to move goods freely, unimpeded by any bureaucratic restrictions”.

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