So the UK’s out of recession. Just about. Teetering on the edge of falling back in, but nevertheless out. This has to be good news for the engineering sector, but any optimism must be tempered with a great deal of caution.
We pretty much know when the general election is going to be, but the uncertainty about industrial policy isn’t going to help industry claw its way into recovery. And the behaviour of the financial sector, with bonus culture seemingly barely restrained and the dubious ethics of hedge funds contributing to the sale of profitable Cadbury’s to the poorly-performing Kraft, is unlikely to do anything to boost the confidence of manufacturing and engineering companies.
It’s difficult to know what the government could do, with the election phony war in full swing, but there is no doubt that innovation and ingenuity in UK industry is there; and that it has the potential to put the UK into the forefront of its sectors. The renewable energy sector is a prime example, with new technologies for marine, wind and solar power on the brink of commercialisation; medical engineering is also a prime sector, as is space science. These sectors, along with all the others, urgently need some kind of signal that their importance to the UK economy is both appreciated and taken seriously.
With the threat of a double-dip recession still very real, the value of engineering to the economy is vital. We’ve said it before but it bears repeating: it’s the engine of future growth, and it needs to be protected.
Special Projects Editor