There is still a lot of dangerous nonsense talked about manufacturing. Not long ago, people started to contemplate the post-industrial society and the future belonging to services such as finance, creative industries, tourism and hospitality. The reality is somewhat different. We are all still feeling the consequences of the banking collapse a decade ago and no one has a clue as to what will be the final ramifications of printing money as a way out. Deep down we all know that true wealth creation depends on the transformational process of manufacturing.
Manufacturing accounts for 11 percent of UK gross value added, it employs 2.6 million people, accounts for 44 percent of UK exports and 70 percent of all research and development expenditure. Even these figures understate the true value because vast areas of the service sector such as transport and distribution, research in universities, finance and even service businesses like ours are really just outsourced activities from manufacturing.
People are rightly worried about what lies ahead. Airbus, BMW and Siemens may be leading the charge to ensure that frictionless trade with the EU will continue when we leave, but consider this, nearly all the giants in UK manufacturing are foreign owned – companies like Alstom, Bombardier, Hitachi, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Jaguar Land Rover and Vauxhall. Even UK stalwarts like Rolls-Royce and BAe are multi-national companies that could and will transfer production overseas if there is a financial advantage. If these companies dis-invest in the UK then a whole manufacturing, research and development eco-system that supports them is put in peril. Not to mention supporting services such as our own.
Of course, large manufacturers are not going to leave overnight in a mass Brexit exodus. As pro-Brexiteers say, many companies have laid down production investment that they simply won’t abandon. However, when facilities and product life-cycles reach their natural conclusion it will be in their re-investment decisions where the true outcome of a hard Brexit will be felt. The pro-Brexiteers offer only guess work, slogans and wishful thinking as to where future trade will be post our EU membership.
Manufacturing does have an image problem. People not engaged with the sector often perceive it as it was 30 or 40 years ago. The current picture is much more upbeat and dynamic. New technologies are in the ascendance: automation, industry 4, space, software, artificial intelligence new materials and additive manufacturing are transforming industries and creating stimulating high-value jobs. More than this, UK manufacturing is now a key player in a global network where spreading knowledge and knowhow is creating a brighter future. And the key term here is ‘global’. A globe that is divided into a small number of larger trading blocs.
As experienced PR and marketing specialists serving manufacturers in engineering, aerospace and construction, the only contribution we can make in a post-Brexit world is to keep helping our clients tell their story. How they are part of that 11 percent that do so much to develop products, find markets, build manufacturing capacity, provide quality and well paid jobs, that then enable a successful service sector to grow and prosper.
We weren’t doing too badly as part of the European trading bloc – imperfect as it was – but that message has always been undermined. Going it alone may be seen as brave. In lieu of any sensible exit strategy emerging from the internal wrangling of government, it looks like we will all just have to hope that fortune does favour the brave.
Let us take the strain with you. Our team is ready to help call us on 0161 408 7888.