The manufacturing industry may indeed hold the power to propel the UK to a recovery in 2021. Industry leaders from Made in the Midlands and Made in Yorkshire discuss some of the key factors in this happening successfully.
The UK economy suffered its biggest recorded slump between April and June of 2020, with the pandemic lockdown measures pushing the country officially into its first recession in over a decade.
However, manufacturing can play a vital role in dragging the economy back to its feet, as the nation cautiously looks to remerge from lockdown in the new year. The UK government can look to manufacturing as being this catalyst for a recovery, largely due it its renowned reliability and efficiency.
Whilst many industries have been heavily impacted by coronavirus, there are many sectors within manufacturing that have remained relatively intact; including the likes of defence, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. We have also seen the manufacturing sector serve its country proudly in rising to the ventilator challenge and being at the forefront of innovation in the design and production of PPE.
As part of a survey with Made in Group members, 73% of respondents believed that "Manufacturing will lead the UK to a recovery in 2021" - with 27% of remaining respondents responding "Maybe". We spoke to some of our members to provide further thoughts on what will be vital if the manufacturing industry is going to lead a UK recovery in 2021?
Jim Mangan, CEO of The Sempre Group
“Fully embracing Industry 4.0 technologies is key to our recovery. When investing in new equipment, we often think of big machine tools or sophisticated robotics, rather than measurement equipment. However, digitising quality management is central to Industry 4.0 — metrology can drive real value.
Quality 4.0 offers manufacturers a path to full control over their measurement data, so they can use it to make better decisions, improve traceability and improve productivity by improving the manufacturing process. Automating processes also allows manufacturers to make better use of their workforce — staff can move away from monotonous low value tasks and focus on more important areas of the business.”
Joanne Munns, Director of Ductec Ltd
"Manufacturing in the UK is growing and is creating much needed jobs in many sectors. The key is to buy British as much as we can to sustain the growth and positivity in a time when so much is uncertain."
Gareth Jones, Managing Director of In-Comm Training and Business Services
“For any economy to be a strong one, you have to be designing and manufacturing products, this is engrained in the UK through our industrial heritage and capabilities. Our manufacturing/engineering organisations may not look the same after this unprecedented period with a heavy shift to more technical roles, but through innovation, skills, people and sheer commitment to succeed,tThe UK will lead the world recovery in our fantastic sector.”
Rebecca Waterfield, Head of Employer Engagement at South & City Colllege Birmingham
"Research has shown that skills and talent pipeline are one of the biggest barriers to growth within the manufacturing industry and although things have been hard and companies are still adapting to new ways of working given the current pandemic, it is fantastic to see such a surge in interest in careers in this sector at South and City College Birmingham. This year we have had nearly 300 candidates start on engineering manufacturing qualifications, through partnership working with employers we are confident that they will have access to the right talent to meet their business needs as we come through the pandemic and into a brighter future."
Helena Flowers, Managing Director of Andel Plastics Ltd
"I think in 2021 manufacturing will lead a recovery across the UK. We have already seen the adaption of manufacturing challenges so that now 70% of PPE is UK sourced. I believe that the more businesses and Government will look at supply chain security in the coming months. If they give the Domestic market a chance to demonstrate how we have invested and improved over last two decades ... they will see we are best placed to offer the full package of services. Offering the best value added service and product they can get.
Looking as a whole we are more economical and environmentally friendly, without those added shipment and travel costs to support a foreign supply chain. I hope we see more decisions from the government to procure their defence supplies, ships etc in the UK as they can lead the change in mindset. Manufacturing has always been the backbone of Britain and I think this pandemic has highlighted the need to support and grow it for future generations."
If you are a member of Made in Group, then please complete this form for early access to our March 2021 "Manufacturing Careers and Skills Week" - Made Futures. If you are a non-member and wish to learn more then please complete and a member of our team will contact you in due course: