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East Midlands Chamber News

Chamber Report Highlights Manufacturing Concerns

There has been a gradual decline in the confidence levels of local manufacturers over the past 12 months, according to a new report published today by East Midlands Chamber.

The discussion paper, called Developing the Spine of UK Manufacturing and Engineering in the East Midlands - Growth and Challenges for the Sector, has been produced by the East Midlands Chamber using national data and its own research.

As the EM leads the rest of the country in terms of manufacturing output, the findings have particular significance for Government policy aimed at rebalancing the economy and creating sustainable growth.

The report shows that while business confidence in profitability and turnover in the past year was positive overall, the trend over the year was downward and this was much more marked for manufacturing and engineering firms.

There were also concerns that the uncertainties which faced businesses at the end of last year – such as the looming General Election, turbulence across the eurozone and a potential interest rate rise – would heighten as 2015 progresses.

However, the report has also identified that although there are issues of concern, the sector is responding positively by upping its investment plans in both plant/machinery and staff training at a faster rate than the wider business community.

Its findings suggest that the manufacturing and engineering sectors need policies which:

  • help to develop the current and future workforce for the sectors
  • enable continued investment in both training and machinery/premises
  • assist and reward businesses accessing new markets overseas
  • provide confidence in long-term energy affordability and security
  • support, as far as possible, a stable environment in regards to fiscal policy

The results of the report are being discussed today with 150 top business leaders from across the East Midlands today at the Chamber’s region-wide Manufacturing and Engineering Conference, at Toyota.

Through a series of keynote speeches, panel discussions and audience feedback, the conference will examine how best to support the sector in specific areas of operation before considering the vision for what the future holds for manufacturing and engineering in the East Midlands.

It will cover four key areas – skills and productivity, energy security, innovation and diversification and the East Midlands’ role within the UK economy.

Liz Fothergill, President of East Midlands Chamber and Chairman of Derby-based Pennine Healthcare, said: “The East Midlands has led the way over the past 12 months in terms of growth and employment. Key to this success has been its strength in manufacturing and engineering, which are areas in which the East Midlands leads the rest of the country.

“The success of the region and these businesses in particular, is now key to ensuring a strong, balanced and sustainable national economy.

“It is vital that policy seeks to support these businesses in their growth, remove barriers to growth and create an environment in which they, and the region as a whole, can flourish.”

Read the full report here.