Manufacturing is underestimated

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After several years of low confidence, the acceleration of the recovery in 2014 has exceeded expectations.

Manufacturing has led the way and many have started to see the importance of the sector again.

But the importance of manufacturing in the UK is still under-estimated. A survey earlier this month by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, revealed that three quarters of the population believe that the UK manufactured more goods 30 years ago than it does today. But as they point out, that is simply not true.

The old talk of a shrinking manufacturing sector, of the UK being unable to compete – these comments have always been misleading, but never more so now. Over the long term the service sectors have grown faster than industry, but, recessions excepted, manufacturing has not declined, it has grown. Whilst employment in manufacturing as a whole has shrunk over time, this is often a consequence of productivity improvements that on average have been more than double the rest of the economy. Actual output is now much higher than 30 years ago.

The UK ranks second in the world for aerospace manufacturing with a 17 per cent global share. In automotive, one in three of all Ford engines used worldwide are made in Britain. One British car plant produces more cars per year than Italy.

That doesn’t sound like unable to compete.