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East Midlands Chamber News

Priority focus needed to ensure manufacturing success in an uncertain future


Manufacturing in the East Midlands will have to adapt to new challenges as Britain moves to a post-Brexit economy.


The key to future growth will be making sure the sector is aligned not only to the Government’s Industrial Strategy but also to global technical and digital innovation.


Continuing to be able to recruit the best people from home and overseas markets to local jobs will also be vital to future success.


Despite the East Midlands being the centre of manufacturing in the UK - firms in this region make more than any elsewhere in the country - there are already suggestions of problems in the sector.


One interpretation of the latest employment data, for example, is that manufacturing in the East Midlands is beginning to slow down.


Office for National Statistics figures for this month showed that unemployment in the East Midlands had risen to five per cent (over 121,000 people) compared to a national average of four per cent, the lowest the national figure has been in over 40 years.


Until quite recently, the resilience of the regional economy had meant the national figure was consistently higher than that of the East Midlands for quite a long time.


“Given that this region is recognised as the manufacturing spine of the UK, some pundits are suggesting that the turnaround could be indicative of a drop in manufacturing confidence and output,” said Chris Hobson, Director of Policy at the Chamber.


“Doubt and uncertainty over Brexit, unsurprisingly, has been identified as a possible cause,” he added.


Next month, the day before the UK is due to leave the EU, the Chamber’s 2019 Manufacturing and Engineering Conference, supported by Lloyds Bank, will examine the latest thinking, policy and projections for the sector in the region.


Under the theme of Future Growth, the conference will examine key topics aimed at supporting the manufacturing sector, aligned to the five areas for growth and the four “grand challenges” of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.


It will bring together leaders from across the sector and – through a series of keynote speakers and expert panel discussions – will explore the challenges and opportunities to develop strategies that will enable the East Midlands to continue to lead and drive the sector forward both in the UK and internationally.


Items on the agenda will include ‘finance and investment’, ‘skills and productivity’, ‘technology, innovation and digital transformation’ and ‘policy and strategy’.


Chris will open and compere the event and there will be additional welcome addresses from Doug Squires, Managing Director, Squires Gear & Engineering, on behalf of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber and from Dean Baker, Director of the Business Launch Centre at the Manufacturing Technology Centre.


Paul Smith, Area Director, Commercial Banking (Leicestershire), Lloyds Bank, under the heading Helping British Manufacturing to Prosper, will explore commitment to support British manufacturing through traditional banking solutions while offering added value through innovative working capital, trade offerings and sponsorship of the Manufacturing Technology Centre.


Other keynote speakers and panellists include Nick Chism, Director General, Enterprise at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Dominic Judge, Director at the charity Education and Employers, Tony Carr, from Caterpillar, Michelle Hargreaves, Principal Commercial Manager, Partner Markets, Vodafone, and Leigh Hunt, of CityFibre.


The conference will be hosted by The Manufacturing Technology Centre, Ansty Park, Coventry.


For more information about the event, visit https://bit.ly/2T45ddB.