In this report we aim to ascertain the perceptions of manufacturers and the public towards the value, role and input of the Government in the growth of this valuable economic sector.
2014 was the fourth year of our Engineered in Britain campaign, which aims to promote the value of engineering and manufacturing to the health and wealth of the UK’s economy.
In the 2014 Engineered in Britain survey we examine the health of UK manufacturing from three perspectives:
- Political: How are the actions and attitudes of the government impacting on the state of the nation’s manufacturing sector?
- Skills: Does the UK have the right people with the skills needed to develop its manufacturing sector today, and in the future?
- Globalisation and commercialisation: Where does the UK’s manufacturing sector stand against other nations?
The report compiles information from two surveys. The first is of 1,000 senior engineers working in UK manufacturing (manufacturers). The second explores the views of 1,000 members of the public (public), and their attitudes towards the nation’s manufacturing sector. Where possible, the report reflects on historical data gathered from previous surveys.
The overall 2014 Engineered in Britain results reflect the current positive mood in the UK towards our economic situation. Both public and manufacturer polls recorded a growing belief that the current Government was committed to a more balanced economy compared to results over the last four years. Furthermore, 41% of the manufacturers polled indicated support for current manufacturing policy (up from 26% in 2013). Of the main political parties, Conservative manufacturing policy was the clear favourite with manufacturers.
On the Chancellor’s well-publicised aim to double UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020, 64% of manufacturers felt the target was unrealistic.
Although over one third of manufacturers polled indicated that their companies were currently recruiting engineers and technicians, an overwhelming majority (89%) did not believe the UK was producing enough engineers to sustain the country’s future economic growth. This view reflects well-publicised concerns from many organisations about a looming shortage of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) professionals in the UK over the coming decades.
On recruitment of engineers and technicians, 35% of manufacturers polled felt science and maths skills were lacking in new recruits, with 32% also noting a poor work ethic in many.
Globalisation and commercialisation
Results of the 2014 report continue to indicate a greater number of companies offshoring activity (17%), compared to those choosing to reshore (11%). Justification for this trend indicates cost as the main driver to offshore, with a reduction in manufacturing unit costs (71%) and labour costs (73%) two commonly cited reasons. However, the decision to reshore was more often based on quality of production, with 72% citing quality of manufacturing and 59% indicating better skills in the workforce as the reasons to reshore.
With two national debates, on Scottish independence and the UK’s position within the European Union, currently in progress, both groups were asked if they felt the uncertainty created by these referendums was having any effect on UK manufacturing. On Scotland, 44% of manufacturers and 27% of the public believed it was having a negative effect on the sector. Similarly, 52% of manufacturers and 44% of the public believed the uncertainty surrounding EU membership was having a negative impact on the sector.