A high-level recruitment expert is renewing calls for the government to invest in the UK’s manufacturing sector as recent figures released show that factories recorded their fastest growth in over three years during December.
Investment and support will enable the manufacturing industry to continue to bounce back – despite the national lockdown introduced last month, says Emma Robinson, founder of Red Diamond Executive Headhunters.
Emma welcomed figures from the Purchasing Managers’ Index that showed a rise to 57.5 during December – the highest level since November 2017.
Red Diamond specialises in placing high calibre candidates in executive positions with companies across the globe – including market-leading manufacturers across a range of sectors.
One client, a £60m turnover business, had won numerous contracts across the past few weeks and was picking up contracts that large companies that had furloughed staff were unable to fulfil.
As a medium-sized enterprise, the business had been more agile in adapting its premises to be Covid-safe and was now benefiting by larger rivals being caught on the back foot.
Emma said: “Bigger companies that put a lot of staff on furlough have been caught on the hop and aren’t able to fulfil contracts on time. Smaller concerns are more agile so are now reaping the rewards of keeping staff working where they could.
“The UK manufacturing industry has a lot to be positive about right now, not least a greater reliance on home-grown talent as a result of Brexit and a move away from cheap imports from the Far East.
“British-made goods have always been associated with high quality but have suffered in the past from being up against low cost – and often low quality – substitutes from China. However, we are seeing something of a backlash against this policy as procurement teams look to reduce their reliance on imported goods.
“As with the previous lockdown, many manufacturers will remain open, in many cases to provide critical services for key clients in sectors such as medical, food processing and PPE production.
“Now is the time for UK manufacturers to continue to be bold, brave and innovative and seize the opportunities, however challenging the times may be. Support from the government will enable more of these vital businesses to continue on their current growth trajectory.”
The manufacturers’ association Make UK has already called for the government to revisit its business support packages, saying that while the furlough scheme was welcome, businesses were taking on debt, deferring tax bills and postponing mortgage payments. It wants a comprehensive support package to be put in place until summer to provide stability and boost confidence.
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