EEF urges bigger manufacturing role in economy

The Engineering Employers Federation (EEF) has pressed the case for a bigger manufacturing base to help tackle challenges such as climate change as well as boosting the economy. The group said manufacturing should be at the centre of a more diverse and durable economy.

In its new manifesto for manufacturing, 'Manufacturing Our Future', the manufacturers' organisation sets out a vision for manufacturing at the centre of a more diverse and durable UK economy and makes recommendations to back it, including a National Economic Council charged with delivering it and a new Industrial Bank to invest in industry.

The growth of sectors such as aerospace, medical equipment and energy will be vital if the UK is to provide the solutions to climate change, demographic shifts and future security needs with domestic manufacturing capacity, said the EEF.

Chief executive Gilbert Toppin said: "Manufacturing must play a bigger role in our economy if we are to meet the challenges facing us over the next decade. It can be a major player in addressing climate change and meeting our demographic and security challenges as well as helping to claw back the twin deficits in the public sector and on trade.

"But this will only happen if our manufacturers show the ambition and make the investments needed to achieve this and the government sets out a framework that gives them the confidence to do it. In particular, the government must set out its priorities for the technologies and markets we need to develop and the steps it will take to help the UK succeed in them."

In related news, a report from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply's (CIPS) said that manufacturing production rose for the first time in more than a year during June, raising hopes that the battered sector could be emerging from 'gloom and doom'.

The report said output in the industry rose for the first time since March 2008 last month, with a reading of 52.1 being above the neutral 50 mark. In addition, its overall activity index - which takes in data for new orders, production, employment, suppliers' delivery times and stocks of purchases - posted its highest reading since last May, with a rating of 47, although this was still a decline.

The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) has risen for the last four months, leading to hopes that manufacturing is edging its way out of recession.

However, June's figures still indicated declines in many key areas of the industry, such as new orders and employment, although these downturns were shown to have eased further.

David Noble, chief executive at CIPS, said the rise in output indicated that the sector "may finally be coming out of recession".

"The latest PMI data suggests that after months of gloom and doom, there are some signs of relief for the UK manufacturing sector," he said. "However, that such data can be read so positively really highlights how bad things have been over the past 15 months.

"Employment levels are still falling which demonstrates that we still have a long way to go before the sector returns to full health."

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