Manufacturing – a leading player in the UK economy with a low profile

Manufacturing – a leading player in the UK economy with a low profile

Whilst many people would consider the UK to be a ‘service-based’ economy – with services such as financial, legal, R&D and real estate accounting for the bulk of economic output and employment – let’s not forget the impact of manufacturing.

Indeed, analysis of some of the latest statistics on the UK’s manufacturing sector, reveals some interesting – and to many people, unknown – facts.

For example:

  • Manufacturing is responsible for 15 to 22% of the UK’s economy.
  • Manufacturing accounts for 18 to 27% of UK employment
  • Manufacturing accounts for an impressive 45% of the UK’s total exports.
  • Wages in manufacturing are around 15% higher than the national average.
  • Manufacturing accounts for 65% of private sector R&D spending.

[Source: Office for National Statistics].

And so, with these figures above, you’d expect manufacturing to have an extremely high profile across the UK.

But sadly, the reality is quite the opposite.

At a recent meeting of Manufacturing Connections,  the UK’s leading ambassadors of manufacturing discussed their experiences.

Sara Duff, Director of Smart Manufacture, said: “There are a few things happening to promote the manufacturing sector – for example several industry bodies and the recent TV programme Inside The Factory – but overall, it’s extremely sad the profile isn’t high.

“When I tell people I work in manufacturing, I frequently get comments such as ‘oh, I didn’t realise manufacturing still existed in the UK!’ This definitely needs to change.”

This view was echoed by Katy Davies, Managing Director of Camden Boss a world-leading manufacturer of electromechanical components and enclosures. She said: “I regularly get asked if we still make stuff in the UK. The fact is we make incredible stuff. It’s incumbent on us all that we pull together and shout about our manufacturing sector in a consistent and engaging way.”

And Marketing Director, Digital Strategist and Business Coach Michael Stewart commented: “Every person in manufacturing has a role to play, but for a message to hit home every organisation promoting manufacturing would do well to also get behind and keep promoting a single theme to change peoples’ perspectives. Here’s three elements we could consistently focus on communicating:”

  1. Manufacturing is thriving in the UK
  2. GB is brilliant at manufacturing
  3. Manufacturing has an exciting range of opportunities for everyone, not just engineers

Manufacturing Connections gives anyone working in the manufacturing sector a unique opportunity to come together to share knowledge, ideas and expertise with like-minded individuals and showcase products and services. This will create new collaborations and open exciting opportunities to drive market growth.

Andrew Vaux, Executive Editor of Manufacturing Matters Magazine, explains: “Whilst manufacturing is undoubtedly one of the key sectors in UK industry, it can be quite an insular and close-knit community.

“There’s so much knowledge, expertise and innovation captured within the sector, but this often goes unnoticed.

“We believe that by opening up opportunities for anyone involved in manufacturing to forge new working partnerships and share ideas, we’ll provide valuable opportunities to support the sector and, ultimately, help drive market growth.”

The focus of Manufacturing Connections will be eight discussion forums during the year. Unlike traditional networking groups, these events will be driven by topical conversations and ‘thought leadership’ – creating unique opportunities to share knowledge, experience and best practice.

In addition, delegates will have the chance to enhance their knowledge and expertise through a series of ‘Mastermind’ events led by experts and focused on the five critical business issues of growth & development, people & culture, technology & innovation, finance & funding and marketing & PR.

Anyone wanting further information about Manufacturing Connections should contact Andrew Vaux, Email:; or David Lomas, Email: