UK manufacturing sector growth set to smash forecasts for 2021, with Yorkshire at the helm

After a difficult 2020, there’s very good news indeed for the UK manufacturing sector. The industry is expected to grow twice as fast during 2021, far exceeding predictions made at the start of the year.

Furthermore, Yorkshire specifically is undergoing something of a manufacturing revolution, which has long been driven by its abundance of natural resources and river network.

Britain’s manufacturing boom is thanks to an unexpectedly robust recovery following the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. Research from Make UK also found that recruitment within manufacturing is also set to increase, with employers expressing an intent to hire for the first time since the start of 2020.

And according to figures from the latest CBI manufacturing healthcheck, UK factory output for the past three months has soared to the highest levels seen since the 1970s. It increased by 37% in the three months to June, compared to 18% in the previous quarter.

Manufacturers and industry leaders were fully expecting the industry to bounce back after Covid-19, but at a much slower rate. Firms were expecting a steady, consistent growth in output as the sector got back on track after the double blows of the health crisis and Brexit-related disruption.

Yorkshire is at the helm

The county of Yorkshire is playing a pivotal part in the UK’s manufacturing sector growth.

Yorkshire’s robust manufacturing landscape dates to the Industrial Revolution, when the county was regarded as being a centre of iron ore, steel, wool and cloth manufacturing. Following the closure of mines, plants and mills, Yorkshire has been steadily transitioning into a more diverse, sustainable and high-tech manufacturing hub. The county is home to eight science and innovation parks, including the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP).

Such is the drive for manufacturing innovation in Yorkshire, that Bradford is hosting a ‘Bradford Manufacturing Week’ event, running from October 4 to October 15, 2021.  The event was launched in 2018 and features tours, work placements, company visits, seminars and more, designed to introduce and encourage more ‘work ready’ applicants to the manufacturing sector.

Vehicles and consumables driving sector recovery

Within a broader national framework, CBI researchers conducted a survey of over 300 UK manufacturing businesses to check in on the state of the industry so far in 2021,  The results were very encouraging, as it was found that output had increased in 15 out of 17 subsectors.

Leading the charge were the motor vehicles and transport equipment subsectors, followed closely by food, drink and tobacco.

Challenges ahead – firms facing supply and staff shortages

Unfortunately, there are a few warning signs hidden in the latest data on output and growth within the sector. With increased output, firms are facing increasingly urgent supply shortages. Over the last few months, stock adequacy has plummeted to its weakest level since April 1977. This in turn could affect prices in the months to come.

Other challenges include staff shortages, and gaps in covid-related support from the government.

The Chair of the CBI Manufacturing Council, Tom Crotty, explained:

 “It is hugely reassuring to see the manufacturing sector performing well after a particularly difficult start to the year. There is a real sense of optimism from many in the sector that there are good times ahead.

“However, the picture is not all rosy, with firms continuing to face difficulties arising from supply chain disruption and cost pressures. Staff shortages are also causing issues for many manufacturing businesses across the country. It will be critical for the government to continue to work with manufacturers to address these issues if the sector’s robust performance is to last over the long-term.”

In anticipation of the next quarter, manufacturers seem to have adopted an attitude of cautious optimism. Major growth is still expected, building on the success of the most recent quarter, but at a slightly slower pace.

In the prospering county of Yorkshire, it is vital companies create a robust pipeline for future-fit talent.

If you’re looking for a new challenge in manufacturing, or need bright new talent to drive your business forward in Yorkshire, get in touch with the expert team at Aqumen Recruitment, a specialist manufacturing recruitment agency in Yorkshire and the north of England.

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