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Automotive, aerospace and nuclear lead UK manufacturing jobs surge

England’s SMEs are set to hire more staff as recruitment confidence across the country hits a three-year high.

A total of 54 per cent questioned by the Manufacturing Advisory Service’s (MAS) Barometer are looking to create new jobs, marking a 14 per cent increase on the same period last year and the highest level of confidence in staff recruitment seen in the history of the report.

According to MAS, firms are looking to take advantage of new opportunities, including expansion and reshoring of supply chains in automotive, aerospace, and nuclear sectors.

Earlier this month, UK unemployment fell to a five year low. Furthermore, data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed a 23 per cent year-on-year increase in vacancies in the manufacturing sector.

These figures are reinforced by growth in sales, with 61 per cent of firms reporting an increase in the previous six months and 73 per cent expected to win more work between now and October – a 14 per cent and 9 per cent rise respectively from March 2013.

Responses also reveal a record appetite for investment in new plant and machinery (59 per cent) and in developing new technologies (52 per cent).

In a statement, Steven Barr, head of MAS, commented: ‘We have seen consistent signs during the last twelve months that firms are ramping up capacity, in order to meet increasing orders and take advantage of work coming back to the UK.

‘This is the clearest signal yet that our manufacturers believe the upturn is sustainable. Three record figures for recruitment and investment in machinery and technology suggest many small manufacturers are planning for the long-term and, encouragingly, they are taking action now to manage future expansion.

‘Our Barometer report highlights that small and medium sized manufacturers are contributing strongly to jobs growth and expect to continue to recruit. They may find it harder to follow this trend, especially in advanced manufacturing sectors, unless they invest in training and retention.’

The MAS Barometer brings together the views of over 800 small manufacturers across England who employ more than 24,000 people and turnover in excess of £3bn.

Readers' comments (3)

  • I hope all other Engineers can see that the UK is on the cusp of a rather large, high value manufacturing upswing. Huge potential for significant expansion exists in the UK right now for a number of reasons.

    Concerning aerospace, we have bulging order books at Rolls Royce; BAE Systems; GKN, Airbus and Surrey Satellites and there's also huge potential for:

    1. Skylon/Reaction Engines
    2. Taranis
    3. Hybrid Air Vehicles
    4. F35
    5. Typhoon tranche 3

    In addition, for automotive there's also:

    1. McLaren, Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover and Rolls-Royce's expansion
    2. F1 cutting edge innovation + development (8 out of 11 teams are UK based)

    Perhaps bridging these two (above), we have the Bloodhound SSC attempting to travel at 1000 mph. Good luck to them, what a feat if they do that.

    The UK's 50 year future is clearly as a high value, low volume manufacturer.

    Expanding it into many, many other commercial areas is the challenge that will enrich us all ........

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  • I rather like the strategy posted on the Engineer previously of targeted manufacturing growth.

    I forget the chap who stated it but the gist was: we import more in washing machines than we sell in Range Rovers overseas.

    If we targeted certain sectors and delivered highly productive manufacturing lines for them, thus squeezing cost, we could massively cut our trade imbalance.

    This isn't an either / or strategy but coupled with the export focus given by Mike B. above it could be a winning formula. After all, you increase profit either by improving sales or cutting costs... why not do both?

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  • Yes, of course prestige one-off (or short-run) projects are important - though let us be honest, most of these are eventually paid for in taxation...and commissioned by HMG, but I still contend that it is the 'domestic and personal' items - look around our bodies, homes and offices and past the washing machine (imports of such is an old chestnut partly because of past financial shenanigans by our merchant wanker sorry, that should be a b of course) friends)and the lap-top...where the real future for UK manufacturing in bulk applies. Items made for purchase by the 60,000,000 of us for our personal use and paid for with our own money!
    Of course, another problem we will have to face is the sheer unadulterated greed of the mark-ups applied by the retail sector and the fact that a buyer for a chain store prefers to get on a plane to Bangkok or Beijing than the train to Bradford, but I live in hope. It appears that the retail consortia wish the population to be their customers, but NOT their suppliers, a situation, like so many which I contend is us-sustainable.

    Mike B

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