Claiming that manufacturing is heading for `meltdown’ is the kind of damaging scaremongering we can all do without.
Looking at some of our figures this week for the first six months of the year (Financial News, page 10) it is evident that in some sectors companies that make things inspire much greater confidence among investors than those providing services.
The index of share prices within the electrical and electronics industries, for example, is up 27% from January to June this year. At the same time, some of our world-class blue chip companies continue to create leading positions within global markets.
The continued success of UK companies can be measured by the hundreds of skilled graduates they are recruiting into their research, technology, design and manufacturing operations. Thousands of other companies that are doing OK are also trying to find skilled workers in the effort to retain a competitive edge.
The idea that bandying about soundbites like `meltdown’ will influence an increasingly intransigent government into action is naive. Instead, the net effect is to risk putting even more people off picking a career in our technology-led sectors.
The common perception of the state of our industries is increasingly being hijacked by propagandists for or against the government economic policy. Armies of statisticians grind into action each month in advance of the Monetary Policy Committee’s interest rate announcement to show how badly some sectors are doing, to the point where some media commentators are questioning the validity of their gloomy figures.
The state of manufacturing is constantly being talked down by people who want to show that the high pound (by which they really mean the weak euro) could be sorted out by pledging to adopt the single European currency.
We are not trying to ignore the real pain that UK industry is facing from the currency issue – or the urgent investment required to boost productivity. But from a business confidence point of view things are not as black as they’re being painted.
Paul Carslake, editor
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