Region’s manufacturers confident in future, reflected in better job prospects

North West manufacturers are seeing a much stronger picture as they enter the second half of the year with business confidence increasing and the sector forecast to outpace the economy overall in 2024

The findings come in the Q2 Manufacturing Outlook survey published today (June 17) by Make UK.

According to the survey, both output and orders have picked up substantially compared with the first quarter and are set to strengthen in the next three months in line with the national picture.

The North West, in particular, is set to benefit from increased production in the automotive sector and aerospace sectors, while the pharmaceutical sector which also has a strong presence in the North West, continues to be strong. This better picture is translating into increased recruitment intentions with job prospects especially strong compared to historical levels.

Business confidence has also risen to equal the highest level recorded since the survey started measuring the indicator in 2014. The only previous occasion it reached the current level was during the immediate post-Covid rebound.

The survey also asked companies to list their top three priorities for the next government.

More than two thirds of manufacturers (69.1%) said delivering an industrial strategy was the top priority, more than half (54.2%) said strengthening EU/UK relations, while almost half (44%) said reducing the business tax burden.

This was followed by investment in national infrastructure (31.5%) and reforming the Apprentice Levy (24.1%).

Make UK is forecasting that manufacturing will grow by 1.2% in 2024 but moderate to 0.8% in 2025. GDP will grow by 0.9% in 2024 and two per cent in 2025.

Dawn Huntrod, Region Director for the North at Make UK, said: “After the economic and political shocks of the last few years there is now strong confidence among manufacturers in North West.

“At long last, companies can see concrete signs of growth and a much better economic outlook ahead. With prices cooling and, potential cuts in interest rates to come, the next government must capitalise on this scenario by delivering a modern, long term industrial strategy which goes beyond the 2030s and has cross-government support.”