Concerns remain about skills gap despite growth says DLA Piper

Manufacturers in Yorkshire and Humber are leading the way when it comes to business confidence and exports to North America, according to a new annual report launched today by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and global law firm DLA Piper.
Picture: PAPicture: PA
Picture: PA

The region scores 6.82 out of a possible ten points for confidence, placing it second out of nine regions and indicating that manufacturers in ​Yorkshire are feeling more confident than elsewhere in the UK. Only manufacturers in the West Midlands are feeling more confident.

The ​​Regional Manufacturing Outlook ​report​ ​draws upon survey data and the latest ONS figures to provide a longer-term picture of the state of UK manufacturing.

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It shows that manufacturers in Yorkshire and Humber are front-runners in the business confidence league.

The region also scores highly for exports, contributing almost ​six per cent to the UK’s total manufactured exports.

The EU is the UK’s largest market for manufacturing exports and ​Europe​ ​takes almost half of ​Yorkshire’s​ exports​.​

However Yorkshire ​is leading the way when it comes to exporting to North America​ with 22​ per cent​ of the region’s exports head​ing to the US​ - the highest ​percentage of all the English regions.

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​​Andy Tuscher, ​EEF’s ​Yorkshire and Humber ​r​egion ​d​irector​, said: “This report shows that Yorkshire and Humber manufacturers are punching above their weight and putting our region on the map.

​“​Almost​ six per cent​ of the UK’s manufactured exports are being made in our region and this success story enables our ingenuity, creativity and skills to be recognised around the world and particularly in Europe – our biggest market – and North America.​“​​

Yorkshire ranks ​seventh​ in terms of manufacturing output.

The sector accounts for an above average 13.9​ per cent​ of regional output and contributes just over ​nine per cent to the UK’s overall manufacturing output.

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​However ​productivity in the region – at 88.5​ per cent​ - is however relatively low compared with other regions.

The number of ​manufacturing ​jobs in the region ​rose 12​ per cent​ between 2010 and 2014 – the fastest employment growth for any English region.

Yorkshire manufacturers now employ 315,000 people - ​around 13​ per cent​ of the region’s total workforce.

Despite some headwinds as weak demand from the oil and gas industry hits the metals sector, ​EEF said Yorkshire’s ​future prospects remain strong, suggesting that the region’s manufacturers could retain​ ​their place towards the top of the confidence league for ​some time.

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​“Manufacturers in the region are rightly feeling more confident than many of their peers​,” said Mr Tuscher​.

​“W​ith future forecasts looking good, their optimism is well founded and likely to keep them flying high, and flying the flag, for some time to come.”

Richard May, partner and ​h​ead of the ​m​anufacturing ​s​ector at DLA Piper, sa​id​: “Some very positive key indicators under difficult circumstances is a good place to be, particularly given the importance of the sector to the region.

​“​It takes a lot to change the mood of a sector with significant and broad-based manufacturing output, particularly given the importance of what has been happening in the unstable oil and gas sector.​“

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He added that the report shows that the region’s manufacturers ​are giving a considered response to changing market conditions​.

“​Yorks​hire and​ Humber manufacturers are coming out of a period of uncharacteristic caution with a sharp focus on what is required for the region to be at the forefront of a resilient UK domestic demand​,​ whilst ensuring that it strengthens its position as a prolific exporter into the EU and North America​,” he said.