11 Dec 2023

The need for a collaborative approach 

Autumn Statement

As we approach the end of summer, our attention inevitably looks to the potential outlook for the remainder of the year. The recent Make UK Regional Manufacturing Outlook report provides an interesting overview that not only sheds light on the sector’s present state but also prompts a nuanced reflection on the challenges and potential opportunities and need for a collaborative approach.

Its emphasis on the apparent increase in manufacturing jobs across six of the eight English Regions and Wales draws attention to the sector’s potential to generate employment and stimulate economic progress. Particularly noteworthy is the significant jump in manufacturing jobs observed in Yorkshire & Humber. This upswing in employment in these regions underscores the role of manufacturing in bolstering local economies, offering a vantage point beyond geographical significance.

The concept of “levelling up” also emerges, acknowledging both progress and disparities. The Report acknowledges the distinct recovery trajectories, with London and the South East leading the charge post-pandemic. This disparity underscores the complexity of equalising opportunities across regions, challenging the notion of a level playing field.

The manufacturing sector’s contribution to the economy, characterised by high-value and skill-intensive jobs, remains a central tenet of the drive toward balanced regional growth. Yet, the report stresses that achieving this necessitates measured, cohesive strategies that align national and regional aspirations. A strategic approach, amalgamating a nationwide industrial vision with localised growth strategies, holds potential for harmonising regional strengths, including infrastructure, innovation, and skill development.

The increase in manufacturing jobs as highlighted in the Report serves as a testament to the sector’s resilience, weathering the storms of Brexit, labour challenges, and supply chain complexities. Recent energy price fluctuations, attributed to geopolitical tensions, accentuate the sector’s exposure to global dynamics.

Looking forward, uncertainties persist. Escalating inflation and interest rates cast a shadow of uncertainty over economic stability, warranting prudence and adaptability. However, the sector’s resilience to these potential challenges will invariably be an indicative test of its long-term sustainability.

Against this backdrop, the Make UK/BDO Regional Manufacturing Outlook report calls on policymakers, business leaders, and communities to forge a collaborative path. By nurturing cooperation, implementing comprehensive strategies, and embracing innovation, the manufacturing sector could catalyse a more robust and balanced economic landscape.

Company info: Smart Futures