Concerns remain about skills gap despite growth says DLA Piper

Picture: PA
Picture: PA
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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.

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.

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.

​​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.

​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.

​“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.​“

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.