Manufacturing report makes for interesting reading


Uncertainty may be prevalent in the manufacturing industry, but small and medium sized manufacturers (SMEs) in the south west are committed to investing in their workforce to lessen the ‘productivity gap’ and help level the playing field between UK manufacturing and our European counterparts.

Findings come from an in-depth report

We employ over 50 staff in the city and count SS Great Britain, @Bristol, Arnolfini and Bristol & Bath Science Park as customers.

We commissioned independent research company Insight Data to carry out the Manufacturing Report 2016, which polled 2,400 manufacturers in the south west.

Respondents were asked a series of questions about how they feel their industry is performing and the challenges facing their business for the future.

When asked if their business has increased productivity in the last twelve months, 64% said it hadn’t, against 36% who said it had – suggesting 2015 has been a difficult year.

What does the future hold?

Manufacturers don’t appear overly optimistic about the future either. Asking if they were confident of improving performance in the next twelve months, over half (52%) said they were unsure; with 30% saying they felt productivity would increase and 18% stating that productivity would not increase at all.

With uncertainty rising and pressures on labour supply, manufacturers are divided about high-value investments – machinery, technology, premises – with 40% saying they planned to make significant investments over the next twelve months, and 60% who said they will not be investing.

However, according to a different report carried out by the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), South West SMEs are committed to investing in their workforce over the next twelve months.

Export lag

The UK is reported to be lagging behind many of our European counterparts, with the south west region performing worse than many others in the UK when it comes to the balance of payments.

This can be attributed to lack government support and a skills crisis. An overwhelming 75% of those quizzed as part of the Manufacturing Report said they felt their business doesn’t receive enough support, leaving them to navigate the stresses and strains on their own.

When faced with the issues of skills, 84% said they found it difficult to access the skills they need, against 16% who said they had no problem.

Brady George, our managing director, comments: “Niche and advanced manufacturing is what Britain does best; and in the West and beyond there are examples of businesses producing breath-taking products and competing globally. But as this survey highlights, there are challenges facing the sector – with productivity, exports and skills high up on the agenda. There is no point ignoring these.

“The future remains bright though and at Almeda we work with some world class manufacturers, who despite the challenges are very optimistic about the future.”