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With only a couple of months left in 2017, many people are looking forward to next year and attempting to make sense of how the Manufacturing Engineering industry will cope with Brexit and its associated fallout.
According to the EEF, the beginning of 2017 saw an increase in jobs in the sector with approximately 9,000 new positions being created in the first quarter. The biggest winner of this growth was the Midlands with a net gain of 12,000 jobs (7,000 in the west and 5,000 in the east) whereas their neighbours in the East of England saw the largest losses of 4,000.
A positive start to the year, coupled with the fact that manufacturers recruitment activity suggested 36% of firms were planning on increasing their permanent employee numbers, indicated that the industry would grow moderately throughout the year.
A lot of this uptake was contributed to Brexit and the resultant drop in the value of sterling which, in turn, caused an upswing in global markets. This, along with a buoyant domestic market, made for positive viewing.
The third quarter saw the positive message plateau a bit, whilst growth was still forecast it was not at the heights it achieved at the beginning of the year. This has not stopped productivity though it is not yet materialising in the forecast data. Concerns still surround the turbulent nature of the pound affecting input costs and pricing however EU markets have provided more support than non-EU markets so far.
So, what does the future hold? 2018 will see more details emerge regarding Brexit and what, if any, trade deals are negotiated in that time. Without a doubt this will be the most important factor facing the industry next year. The OECD has recently predicted Britain’s economic growth at 1% for 2018 compared to PwC’s slightly more modest 1.4%. Both being based on a stronger export market due to the fall of the pound.
2018 should also see an increased focus on innovation, especially in the processes areas of operation. With the Internet of Things, Automation and Artificial Intelligence becoming ever more prominent, the ability for firms to reduce production and operation costs will be imperative to the growth of the market and the survival of businesses.
Other considerations to take into account include new risks created by the fallout of Brexit, supply chain reviews to overcome exchange rate fluctuations and the possibility of the Bank of England raising interest rates also needs to be taken in to account as well as the global economic impact of the industry as a whole.
Whilst we cannot say for sure what will happen in 2018, it is imperative that manufacturing and Engineering firms make sure they have back up plans for all the possible scenarios that could appear next year, most notably as a result of Brexit. Having contingency plans for a ‘no deal’, hard or soft Brexit and its subsequent fall out is the bare minimum they should have planned.
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I contacted Ambitek last year about employment. They quickly responded and helped me get a job! I now have a full time job thanks to Ambitek and their staff. They have always paid me on time and have always been there to help me if I needed any advice! Now me and my family are doing great all thanks to Ambitek.
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