UK Manufacturing Report By Make UK: A Vital Engine of Economic Growth and Prosperity
The latest ‘Manufacturing: The Facts’ Report by MAKE UK revealed that the UK’s manufacturing has climbed one place to eighth in the world rankings, overtaking France.
Manufacturing holds a special place in the UK’s economic landscape, playing a crucial role in driving exports, providing employment opportunities, and fostering innovation through research and development. This sector is widely distributed across the country, with notable concentrations in Scotland, the West Midlands, Northern Ireland, Wales, and the North West, where it significantly contributes to both output and job creation. These regions encompass a diverse array of manufacturing sub-industries, spanning food and beverages, metals, electronics, electrical equipment, machinery, transportation, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, rubber, plastics, and non-metallic minerals.
The impact of the UK’s manufacturing sector on the national economy is substantial, boasting a total output of £224 billion. Employing more than 2.6 million individuals, it offers an average weekly wage of £569, which exceeds the UK’s average wage of £512. Beyond its economic contributions, manufacturing also plays a vital role in advancing research and development, with a collective investment of £25.8 billion in 2019.
Notably, manufacturing accounts for a significant portion of the UK’s exports, making up 49% of the total. Additionally, it comprises 41% of the country’s total business investment. This pivotal sector greatly influences the UK’s balance of payments, helping offset trade deficits in other areas. Key destinations for UK-manufactured goods include the European Union, the United States, and China.
The Challenges in UK Manufacturing
Despite its significant contribution to the UK economy, the manufacturing sector faces a range of challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the sector, with supply chain disruptions, reduced demand, and workforce shortages. To support the sector, the UK government has introduced a range of measures, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the COVID-19 Manufacturing Fund.
In addition to the challenges posed by the pandemic, the manufacturing sector also faces longer-term challenges. One of the key challenges facing the sector is the skills gap. The sector requires a highly skilled workforce to operate and innovate effectively, but there is a shortage of skilled workers in many areas. To address this, the UK government must invest in skills training and education to ensure that the sector has the workforce it needs to thrive.
Investment in new technologies
Another challenge facing the sector is the need for investment in new technologies. The manufacturing sector is undergoing a period of rapid technological change, with new technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things transforming the way that goods are produced. To remain competitive, UK manufacturers must invest in these new technologies and adapt to the changing landscape.
The sector must address the issue of productivity. UK manufacturing has historically lagged behind other countries in terms of productivity, and this has held back its growth and competitiveness. To address this, the sector must invest in new technologies, improve its supply chain management, and adopt best practices in areas such as lean manufacturing and continuous improvement.
How can we support these challenges?
To support the UK manufacturing sector, the government must continue to invest in targeted policies and initiatives. In order to keep the manufacturing sector thriving, it’s essential to make some key investments. This means putting resources into things like training and education for our workforce, fostering research and development, and improving our infrastructure. The government also needs to collaborate closely with the sector to tackle some pressing issues, like the shortage of skilled workers, the demand for investments in cutting-edge technologies, and the necessity of boosting productivity.
But it’s not just on the government’s shoulders; the manufacturing industry itself has to adapt to the changing times. This involves embracing new technologies, refining the way supply chains are managed, and adopting best practices like lean manufacturing and continuous improvement. By taking these steps, the sector can stay competitive and continue to be a driving force behind economic growth and prosperity in the UK.
Though the manufacturing sector has its fair share of challenges to tackle, like the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the persistent skills gap, the urgent call for investments in cutting-edge tech, and the need to crank up productivity, there’s a treasure trove of untapped potential waiting to be unlocked. By joining forces and fostering a close partnership between the government and the manufacturing sector, we can guarantee that manufacturing stays as the driving force of the UK economy for many more years ahead.
Disclaimer: The data and insights presented in this article are derived from the Make UK Manufacturing Facts Report compiled by Make UK. E3 Recruitment does not claim ownership of the report, and all credit for the data and analysis goes to the respective organisations