Manufacturing out of a rut?

Results of the latest Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI) suggest that managers are cautiously optimistic about manufacturing coming out of recession. Although predictions indicate that more people are likely to be employed in the manufacturing sector during the next six months, the sudden good news has not been widely accepted as a reason to celebrate. Professor […]

Results of the latest Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI) suggest that managers are cautiously optimistic about manufacturing coming out of recession.

Although predictions indicate that more people are likely to be employed in the manufacturing sector during the next six months, the sudden good news has not been widely accepted as a reason to celebrate.

Professor Shaun Tyson of Cranfield School of Management said: ‘The Spring RCI figures indicate cautious optimism in manufacturing for the first time in many months.’This optimism is a reflection of managers’ expectations for the future, perhaps fuelled by a recovery in the USA and the feeling that the worst aspects of last year’s crises are over.’

Despite the return of business confidence in the manufacturing sector and demand for their main products, it is still a fragile area. In autumn, 2001, the RCI – a quarterly survey of UK directors’ and managers’ expectations of changes in recruitment activity and business conditions – showed the manufacturing sector reaching negative figures for the first time.

There were concerns that this could be a long downward slide as a consequence of uncertainty and unpredictable events.

Professor Tyson added: ‘It is important to remember that the figures slumped to a desperate low at the end of last year and are now making a slow recovery – we shouldn’t get too excited that things are on the up as they have realistically just levelled out.’

This is supported by the RCI reported business confidence levels, which reached their lowest point since the start of the RCI in autumn last year.

The net percentage of respondents who were optimistic about business conditions stood at just +20%. On balance, more than half (+58%) have now given confident predictions, a figure more similar to opinions when the RCI started in Winter 1999 (+57%).