Much has been said recently about the erroneous route the UK economy has taken by relying too heavily on the financial sector. This, it is felt has led to the present parlous state of the economy since the global crash in 2008. While the financial sector does generate a lot of revenue for the government when times are good, the manufacturing base of the economy should not be immediately dismissed.
In fact, Britain is the sixth biggest manufacturer in the world. On average 14% of the UK economy is still based in manufacturing. The figure is obviously lower in London where rental prices are highest. In the north east of England manufacturing accounts for 16% of the region’s turn over in revenues. Big employers in the area include Nissan, BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, Siemens, Caterpillar, Komatsu and GSK. Not all of these are UK companies but they are, nevertheless, bringing jobs to the area. These companies are using the latest technologies to make products that are competitive in the global markets.
Rolls Royce in particular is having a renaissance thanks to its state-of-the-art products for the Aerospace sector. It is partnering with other British firms such as the Midlands based Erodex to lead the world in aerospace design. Companies such as Rolls Royce and Erodex are realizing the need to move into hi-tech and high-value manufacturing in order to stay competitive. While the nation was saddened to see the closure of the last of the iron and steel making operations in Teeside in 2010, it is understood that Britain cannot compete with the cheaper production costs of countries such as China.
However, there remains no shortage of engineering talent in the UK. The 2012 London Olympics is going to be a showcase for UK engineering. Moreover UK engineers are in high demand around the world.
The UK can remain an important player in the world manufacturing and engineering scene. It is important that UK manufacturing plays to its strengths of quality, innovating technology and the best engineering practices.