The Engineer usually studiously avoids covering statistics and reports relating to the performance of the UK manufacturing sector. Call us idealists, but we prefer to focus on the facts behind the technology success stories rather than harp on about statistics which, on the whole, have made pretty grim reading in recent years.
But this week was different. In amongst the silly-season tales of great white sharks of the south coast and the geo-political consequences of a few jelly beans on a stretch of Nottingham turf, the papers were full of encouraging reports that the UK manufacturing sector is currently enjoying its most buoyant period in a decade.
The latest figures from the government sponsored Office for National Statistics show that despite the strong pound, manufacturing output rose by 0.2% in June from May. Amounting to an annual increase of almost 1%, this is the fourth monthly increase in a row, making it the longest period of growth this decade.
In further encouraging news, figures released by the CBI indicate that job cuts in manufacturing have decreased over the last quarter to just 5,000. This compares to an average of 30,000 per quarter since 2003.
So what’s going on? Are these signs of recovery simply the random effects of the whims and vagaries of the global economic climate or are there good solid reasons for the encouraging resurgence of the once mighty UK manufacturing behemoth? Could it be that following years of closures and job cuts the technology rich, slimmed down, innovative UK firms long championed by The Engineer are beginning to demonstrate their value?