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.