NW manufacturing sees jobs, productivity and export levels rise

A report out today shows that industry is increasing its importance to the North West economy, with the total number of jobs growing by 4.5% since 2010 and now accounting for almost 10% of the North West workforce.

The research, from EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and accountancy and business advisory firm BDO, shows that, overall North West manufacturers have built on the momentum seen in 2017, recording healthy output and order balances across the year.

This impressive performance has come about as a result of healthy demand from both home and foreign markets.

In particular, this is influenced by the dominant pharmaceutical industry, given that it makes up almost a fifth of manufacturing in the North West.

Transport, especially aerospace, has also been a strong performer for the North West on the back of strong order books and a seemingly insatiable demand for air travel.

The North West also continues to be a strong export performer, accounting for almost 10% of total UK manufacturing exports.

The region depends slightly less than other regions on exports to the EU and has the highest share of any UK region of exports to Africa and the Middle East, accounting for 11.3% of the regional total.

Richard Halstead, director of member engagement for EEF in the North, said: “The report shows that industry continues to have an increasingly vital role to play in the North West.

“The last year has seen a strong performance with lofty heights being reached in the second half of last year and it is no surprise to see some easing back in the first half of 2018.

“There are well-documented challenges going forward, not least those facing the automotive and construction supply chains.

“Furthermore, the progress of Brexit negotiations has the potential to be a factor in the future performance of manufacturers in the North West.

“Despite this, those companies that invest and innovate will still have the best long-term prospects and can contribute to raising the productivity performance of the region and the UK as a whole.”

Graham Ellis, director and head of manufacturing at BDO in the North West, said: “Local manufacturers have delivered another strong performance.

“Manufacturing is a real powerhouse sector for our regional economy, creating jobs and opportunities in both domestic and international markets.

“However, it is crucial the Government does not lose focus on the importance of UK manufacturing as we endure the twists and turns of EU negotiations.

“A long-term, practical industrial strategy that delivers a positive trading environment for businesses post-Brexit will be important to the future success of our manufacturing heartland.”