The number of jobs in manufacturing has grown across regions in the UK highlighting the importance of the sector and hopes of leveling up by creating high skilled and better paid jobs.
The Make UK/BDO Annual Manufacturing Outlook Report provides a comprehensive analysis of manufacturing's contribution to each English region and devolved nation, considering various metrics like industry's share of regional and national economies, employment figures, and sectoral analysis.
Despite the positive job growth in most regions, significant labour challenges persist, as 74,000 vacancies remain unfilled, resulting in an economic output loss of around £6.5 billion.
Verity Davidge, director of policy at Make UK, emphasizes that industry remains critical to economic growth by offering valuable, high-skilled jobs, but addressing the sector's growth prospects necessitates bold measures at both national and regional levels. A comprehensive approach, including a national industrial strategy aligned with localized growth strategies, focusing on infrastructure, innovation, and skills, is crucial.
Richard Austin, head of manufacturing at BDO, attributes the sector's growth resilience to overcoming multiple challenges like Brexit, skilled labor shortages, supply chain delays, and energy price hikes following the Ukrainian crisis. While challenges persist, manufacturers must remain vigilant, responsive, and resilient to potential future geopolitical or economic shocks.
Official data shows Yorkshire and the Humber experienced the most significant growth in manufacturing jobs, adding 46,000 jobs in 2022, largely due to the Food and Drink sector's post-pandemic growth, which accounts for 16.3% of the region's output. The South West and the East of England also saw substantial increases in manufacturing jobs, along with the East and West Midlands, London, the South East, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The report underscores the importance of manufacturing and jobs in 'red wall' areas, where the sector significantly contributes to the regional economy. For instance, Wales' manufacturing sector accounts for almost a fifth (17.3%) of its economy, significantly above the UK's average.
While the report showcases manufacturing's strengths across regions and nations, it also highlights the remaining challenges in achieving equitable development. Although most regions and nations have recovered to pre-pandemic levels of output, the increases in Gross Value Added (GVA) are relatively modest for many, except for London and the South East, which experienced a substantial GVA increase of almost a fifth (19%) compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2021.
Find out more about the report findings on the BDO website here.