‘Time to ditch myth that Britain manufactured more in 1980s’

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SOME myths prove harder to dispel than others.

One of the most damaging, according to the organisation that speaks up for Britain’s manufacturers, is that the UK produced more goods in the 1980s than it does today.

The power of this “urban myth” could explain why so many commentators believe that Britain’s days as a manufacturing powerhouse are gone.

Far from it, says the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation. The EEF is banging the drum for Manufacturing, Science and Technology Week, which starts on June 23 at the International Festival for Business.

Research compiled by the EEF reveals that, while consumers are supportive of British manufacturing, they are largely in the dark about the true state of the sector today.

The study found that three quarters of consumers wrongly believe that the UK used to manufacture more goods 30 years ago than it does today. Despite being at the forefront of economic recovery, only 36 per cent of respondents think that the UK’s manufacturing industry is growing. More positively,

more than three quarters of consumers said they would be proud to work for a manufacturer in the UK and 72 per cent prefer buying goods made in Britain.

According to the EEF, manufacturing is driving the economic recovery. It employs 2.6 million people and accounts for 11 per cent of GDP. The sector is on track for 3.6 per cent growth this year.

In Yorkshire and the Humber alone, manufacturing output stands at just over £13bn a year with companies in the region employing more than 303,000 people. But despite this, an alarming number of Britons believe that manufacturing is declining, according to the EEF study.

Andrew Tuscher, Yorkshire and Humber region director at EEF, said: “With the global spotlight on British manufacturing next week it is time to ditch the urban myth that Britain manufactured more in the 80s than it does today. The reality is that British manufacturing is a huge success story and is going from strength-to-strength..it is vibrant, vital and producing more today than it did 30 years ago. The good news is that manufacturers already have consumers’ backing, but if we arm them with the full facts about the strength, dynamism and versatility of this essential sector we will hopefully gain their pride too.

“This will encourage more young people to consider a career in our sector and make it easier to attract the talented and skilled employees needed for growth to continue at a pace.”

The cream of Yorkshire’s manufacturing sector will gather at the Global Manufacturing Festival, which is being held on June 25 at The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing in Rotherham. As well as a conference and trade show, the festival aims to help companies who want to network with large global companies. The Yorkshire Post is media partner for the event.

The Global Manufacturing Festival is part of the International Festival for Business, which is the biggest showcase of British business since the Festival of Britain in 1951.