Posted On: 19th September 2012
MHA, an association of eight firms from across the UK published their Manufacturing and Engineering Survey Report earlier this year here, Chris Barlow, director at Bloomer Heaven, a member of MHA, discusses the impact of the key findings six months on.
The government have stressed the importance of the manufacturing sector as vital to the process of economic recovery; however, the question remains as to whether this has translated into positive action. The MHA Manufacturing and Engineering Survey Report in January 2012 highlighted a number of key industry concerns, most concerning of which were a perceived lack of government strategy, and a lack of understanding about the support available for the sector. Here we take a look at some of the key findings of the 2012 report and the changes which have taken place.
The MHA survey highlighted a perceived lack of government strategy with more than 90% of those surveyed believing there was no national strategy in place for the sector. As a result of this troubling statistic MHA entered into a number of conversations with Government ministers. These were met by the reassurance that Manufacturing had been placed at the centre of the economic strategy with campaigns such as Make it in Great Britain, “aiming to transform the image of modern British manufacturing and to raise awareness of its importance for the economy.” Despite these reassurances it remains to be seen whether the sector will notice a marked improvement in the remainder of this year.
Growth in Export Markets
One of the Survey’s encouraging findings was the amount of export activity, particularly for SMEs. 72% of those surveyed were already actively exporting with Asia coming second to the Eurozone as an export destination. Tensions around the Eurozone have been ever present in 2012 and companies are increasingly looking to traditionally higher risk markets to maintain their competitive advantage. One respondent suggested it was necessary to “significantly increase awareness of export opportunities in high growth markets.” Initiatives launched this year by UKTI, such as the Gateway to Global Growth have been implemented in order to support SMEs in their overseas expansion plans. In addition, Morison International the association of which MHA is the UK member have launched a series of guides to doing business abroad. With a wider pool of support for those who do export and for those considering it, hopefully there will be an increase in confidence among manufacturers with regards to their trading relationships.
Support for the manufacturing industry
While the survey report highlighted a lack of awareness amongst respondents of the assistance available to them in the form of grants, it also highlighted some strain in banking relationships. 42% of the respondents highlighted that their bank was not providing adequate support with a lack of access to funds highlighted as the main area of tension. Despite the difficulties, the MHA report indicated that only 20% intended to change or had recently changed their bank. As such it may be unlikely that there is much of a shift in satisfaction with manufacturers and engineers failing to receive adequate support but unwilling to put themselves at risk with upheaval.
With the government pledging to recognise the importance of the manufacturing sector in revitalising the current economic climate, it is hoped that the 2013 MHA survey report will provide a more positive outlook for the manufacturing sector. However, with ongoing financial barriers it remains to be seen if a robust strategy is in fact in place and will begin to have an effect by this point.
MHA and Bloomer Heaven will be conducting its 2013 Manufacturing and Engineering Survey in January. If you are interested in taking part in our survey or receiving a copy of next year’s report please contact Chris Barlow.