Sunday, 2 January 2011


'While it is unrealistic to expect UK manufacturing to return to the 24% of GDP it generated in the 1980s, with sterling at a competitive rate and our property and financial services sectors hit particularly hard in the recession, there is real potential for this share to grow. In order to do so it is important for the UK to recognise, celebrate and promote our successes and comparative advantages in manufacturing.'

From the British Chambers of Commerce Manufacturing for Export report.

'If in comparison to many other developed economies, British manufacturing is not in quite the poor shape many at home and abroad assume, we must question how such a perception came about. One of the most noticeable reasons for this has been because of a major reduction in those employed within the manufacturing industries. While the 2.6m people currently employed within UK manufacturing is far more than the 1m currently working in financial services, it is far less than the 6.9m manufacturing jobs there were in 1978. This reflects a decline in traditional UK strengths in industries such as steel-making and shipbuilding. It also reflects a broader trend across the sector, where companies have increasingly become part of international supply chains and low skill, labour-intensive, mass-production work has moved to lower-cost emerging economies. The jobs and competitive advantage for countries like the UK now lies in high value, skilled research, design and innovation work rather than traditional production and assembly processes, which employed larger numbers of lower-skilled staff.'

The full report can be downloaded from the British Chambers of Commerce site

Image of Made in Birmingham: The Exhibition of Local Manufactures and Natural History 1886 poster from Local History Online