A full recovery is still a year off at Forgemasters, chief executive Graham Honeyman has said.
The Sheffield foundry boss said the improving economic situation had yet to take hold at his 800-strong company.
He told a meeting of the British Manufacturing Plant Constructors Association: “We keep hearing that the economy is picking up – not in my company, not just yet. It will take at least another year for things to turn around.”
Speaking to 80 BMPCA members at the annual dinner at Sheffield’s Cutlers’ Hall, he blasted the £60bn HS2 project as a “waste of time for the north of England.”
“You could build a new motorway for a tenth of the cost. Or 10 nuclear power stations which would give enough work to Sheffield a lot of years ahead - not a train that gets you to London 20 minutes faster. We want real jobs for real people.”
The association is made up of companies involved in all aspects of manufacturing equipment, from the design and supply of melting furnaces, rolling mills, process lines and inspection systems, to engineering services such as installation, consulting and maintenance for the iron, steel and non-ferrous metal industries.
BMPCA chairman Mick Holloway said reasons to be cheerful included: “The coming of the long awaited nuclear renaissance, ambitious plans to harness tidal power in Swansea Bay, the announcement of the Siemens Wind Turbine assembly facility at Hull Docks and Network Rail announcing plans to spend £38bn.”
Re-shoring was on the rise too, he added.
“It is against this background that manufacturing companies now need to be bold and invest in the enablers that will allow them to actively participate in the supply chains that feed these major investments.”