Overcoming the perceived image of UK manufacturing

Overcoming the perceived image of UK manufacturing

There’s absolutely no doubt as to the impact of manufacturing on the UK economy.

Indeed, it’s vital that UK negotiators seeking new trade deals are equipped with a clear understanding of the sector’s importance.

A recent report ‘Inside the Black Box of Manufacturing,’ by Dr Jostein Hauge and Dr Eoin O’Sullivan from Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing, and conducted by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), highlights that UK manufacturing:

  • Provides over 2.7 million jobs.
  • Makes up 49% of UK exports.
  • Contributes 66% of all UK R&D business expenditure

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

Sara Duff, Director of Smart Manufacture, said: “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.”

So why do the facts revealed in the BEIS report referenced above, not correlate with images and perception?

Further discussions at the Manufacturing Connections meeting offered a number of suggestions.

Luke Smith, Operations Manager at Lesjofors Heavy Springs UK, said: “We have to make the factory floor sexy as a lot of our income, profit and turnover is generated on the factory floor.

“We have the same problem all the time – it’s de-glamourised, it’s non-significant and sometimes the younger generation don’t even think it’s relevant. We need to put down our roots and let the local communities know it’s not dirty, rubbish work.”

His view was echoed by Business Coach Derek McIntyre: “There’s still this perception of manufacturing as being a man in a boilersuit, covered in oil and carrying a spanner.”

Leon White, Business Development Director at leading steel door manufacturer Strongdor Limited added: “Making the factory floor look amazing and be a good environment is absolutely essential.”

And Tim Peniston-Bird, Managing Director of Sales Strategists Orangutan, concluded: “We need to ask the manufacturers of tomorrow ‘do you want to take world-class products to market which your granny will use?”

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: andrew@m3publishing.co.uk; or David Lomas, Email: david@m3publishing.co.uk.