March Industry Round-Up
March’s edition of our industry round-up will get you up to speed with the latest engineering and manufacturing news. This month explores the optimistic outlook for the future of UK manufacturing, and Jaguar Land Rover building a new design and engineering facility.
Optimism for the UK Manufacturing Industry
Following Brexit in June 2016, there was uncertainty over the future of UK manufacturing. However, 9 months after the vote to leave the EU, there appears to be a positive outlook for the way the industry is heading.
The industry that accounts for 45% of all UK exports has been growing at its fastest pace in more than 3 years, with export orders growing at its quickest pace since December 2013. It is believed that the manufacturing industry is benefiting from the sterling’s fall after the vote. UK products became cheaper as a result, leading to manufacturers offsetting this by increasing their prices and making exports more competitive.
According to a report by IMECHE (Institute of Mechanical Engineers), UK firms have reported growth rising to 31% in the first quarter, which is the highest level since the third quarter of 2013. Whilst the number of firms expecting growth in the second quarter rose to 33%.
The result of the referendum gave companies the chance to review their international trade strategies and look beyond the EU. The sharp rebound in export has ensured that manufacturers will be making a positive contribution to UK growth this year, making optimism in UK manufacturing facilities surge to a 22-year high.
Anna Leach, CBI’s head of economic intelligence, said: ‘It’s been a strong month for UK manufacturers, with production growing robustly and overseas demand on the up. And manufacturers are positive about the quarter ahead, expecting output to grow at the fastest rate since February 1995.’
London Taxi Company Opens £300m Factory
There has been more good news for the UK manufacturing industry this month as London Taxi Company (LTC) opens a new car factory in Coventry. The plant is being read as a signal of China’s confidence in the UK post-Brexit.
It is the first new car plant in Britain for more than a decade. London Taxi Company’s Chinese owners, Geely, has invested £325m into the production of the electric taxis. It is the first site in the UK dedicated to producing electric cars.
The factory, which has created 1000 jobs is aiming to see their electric black cabs going on sale later this year, and is aiming to produce 5,000 vehicles a year by 2019, but has the capacity to build 20,000 a year.
Business secretary, Greg Clark has expressed his confidence about the future of the car industry in Britain, claiming that the UK was a ‘world leader in the development of new automotive technologies’.
Engineering Skills Shortage
According to a study by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which was backed by Tata, the UK engineering sector is facing a significant skills shortage. There are concerns that the lack of skills, ineffective education system, and misrepresentations of apprenticeships could be affecting Britain’s industrial growth.
The engineering sector is currently responsible for 26% of the UK’s GDP. However, more than 1.8m additional engineers and qualified technicians will be needed by 2025 to meet existing and growing demand for skills across Britain, according to Engineering UK. This estimates to at least an extra 20,000 students graduating from engineering disciplines ever year.
According to the survey, the two biggest barriers to young people pursuing a career in engineering are lack of understanding about an engineer’s job (70%) and a poor image of engineering (68%). David Landsman, the UK boss of Tata believes we need to ‘reshape both how engineering is perceived and respected, and how our young people are taught’, in order to save the UK’s economic growth.
Jaguar Land Rover Opens Design and Engineering Centre
Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC, one of the UK’s largest car manufacturers, has begun construction on a £200 million design and engineering centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire.
The site is intended is planned to become a world-leading facility for automotive design and product engineering. The expansion is the first major project the company has undertaken at one of its non-manufacturing sites in over a decade.
Over the past five years, Jaguar Land Rover has invested heavily in its UK manufacturing facilities to support the introduction of its new vehicles. This has resulted in more than 20,000 being employed, taking its total workforce up to more than 40,000. The company has invested more than £11 billion in new product creation and capital expenditure as part of its continued plans for global growth.
We hope you enjoyed this month’s industry update! We will be back next month to let you know what happened in April.