Cornerstone of Britain – The Key Problems Facing British Manufacturing
After an encouraging surge since the economic crisis in 2008, British Manufacturing is beginning to slow down once again owing to deep issues within the industry. Despite the economy being largely supported by the services industry largely based in London, many parts of Britain are still reliant on manufacturing hubs, especially in northern parts of the country. While growth has been steady for British manufacturers, now is the time to be looking to the future while the situation is relatively stable otherwise it risks losing further ground on its international competitors. The fault can be placed on many across the board from manufacturers themselves to the influence which the government has over the industry.
Lack of investment is an element which has been explored before in previous blogs and will be emphasised here once again. A considerable issue in terms of recruitment is the lack of any framework for many manufacturers to replace skilled workers who leave. Generally, staff enter the industry and develop their skills before moving on to knowledge intensive business services. The cycle then repeats and very few staff are retained to contribute ideas in the future. As new technologies such as the internet of things and smart factories are implemented more, manufacturers will be required to retain more skilled staff than ever before.
Discussions of how to enable British manufacturers to compete against global competition has for a while been a talking point among various governments. Tax adjustments and investment opportunities have failed to revitalise established British industry; therefore, the spotlight should fall elsewhere. The emphasis should be placed upon new emerging markets where British manufacturers can get the jump on their competitors due to the advanced technology available here. For example, as the North Sea oil trade has begun to wane, the prospect of offshore wind farms has become even more promising – so much so that Britain contains half of the world’s overall population of wind farms in its coastal regions.
In terms of competing against other developed nations, a major issue for exporters is the strength of the pound sterling. As the Euro struggles, the strength of British currency increases, which is ideal for holidaymakers as they get more money to spend when travelling abroad. However, for manufacturers it means the cost of their goods increase to the point where overseas competitor’s prices are cheaper. There are always winners and losers depending on how strong the pound sterling is, but in the current state of the global economy, it is British manufacturers who are being negatively affected by it the most.
In the grand scheme of things, history has shown that attempting to reinvigorate traditional industries has tended to fail, which is why more experts are calling for the spotlight to fall on new and emerging industries. British manufacturers are amongst the global leaders in the energy sector, low-carbon cars and healthcare technology and it is in these industries where sustained growth is achievable. An effective plan to retain skilled staff implemented from the outset which is combined with help from the government can be the base to create a long term future for British Manufacturing.