Plant & Works Engineering
Comment from Make UK
Published:  06 August, 2020

As we reach the summer break and enter the second half of the year it’s safe to say that few if anyone could have seen how 2020 would develop for manufacturing at the start of the year. Having begun the new decade with a pick-up in investment following the Election when it seemed the clips had been released from a period of prolonged uncertainty following the Referendum the sector has seen a collapse in business as domestic and overseas markets went into shutdown overnight and global travel and trade came to an abrupt halt.

Make UK’s latest data at the time of writing has shown some pick up in sales and orders through the early summer but this has been countered by a sharp rise in the number of companies planning redundancies and a feeling that normal trading conditions will take far longer to recover. But what we have also seen through this period is that, yet again, at a time of national need it is the manufacturing sector that the country has relied on to keep its economy going and provide vitally needed supplies. Whether in essential food and drink or companies coming together to share expertise as with the Ventilator Challenge or clothing companies making PPE, the extent to which the sector has adapted and innovated has been extraordinary.

The shock to the system and the need to adapt and innovate has also shot forward the adoption of digital technologies in far greater detail and processes that might have taken the best part of five years to come forward previously have now been adopted in five months. Moving forward it is this innovation which will see manufacturing recover and play its part in a post Covid economy which will look very different. Currently Make UK is campaigning for sectoral support for key strategic industries such as aerospace and automotive which will be vital to the future of the sector and which will develop the new technologies that can be shared right across the sector. We also remain committed to a National Skills Task Force to retain and redeploy key skills within manufacturing so that they are not lost. We are also campaigning for measures to ensure the next generation of Apprentices are not lost amid the fallout from the crisis to ensure our sector has a pipeline of key skills.

History has shown us, a strong industrial base provides the foundations needed to create a prosperous society. It is the manufacturing sector, with its versatile and innovative industries that stands ready to rebuild our economy.