At the start of a new year it is heartening to see that our vibrant manufacturing sector is leading the UK’s economic recovery.
In its annual survey of companies, manufacturers’ organisation EEF expects the sector to grow faster than in any other Western Europe economy this year – including Germany. The EEF survey tips UK manufacturing to grow 2.7% this year, compared with 1.6% in Germany and just 0.7% in France.
The survey also reveals that 55% of companies expect their exports to increase, with the Middle East as a favoured market and manufacturing executives upbeat about the Eurozone.
This encouraging picture of our manufacturing sector follows on the heels of the newest report from the All-Party Manufacturing Group – Making Good: A Study of Culture & Competitiveness in UK Manufacturing – to which the Institute of Export contributed.
The report was launched at a reception in Parliament after a nine month inquiry chaired by Chris White MP and Jonathan Reynolds MP. Our Director General, Lesley Batchelor, and I were among experts interviewed during the inquiry.
As influencers and campaigners of embedding professionalism in international trade, the IOE welcomes this report that makes clear recommendations for how Government can create an industrial culture designed to help UK manufacturers compete at the top of the global marketplace.
The report says: “Exporting should be taken seriously; it requires a robust existing business, strong management and correct, targeted advice from those with knowledge of both the industry sector and the market into which the business is exporting. Training must also be taken seriously, and there are some very high standard export and international trade qualifications available.”
At the IOE we particularly champion the focus on working in partnerships to boost professional in international trade so we are pleased that the report states: “UKTI should be more targeted in its approach and collaborate with existing bodies to promote export training where appropriate.”
As the EEF survey shows confidence for 2014 within the sector, I urge more manufacturers to recognise the business boosting benefits of investing in training and education in their drive for global sales.