Manufacturing ‘remains vital’ to Yorkshire’s success says report

Manufacturing remains vital to the success of Yorkshire’s economy, with the sector accounting for five per cent of the region’s economy and more than one in 10 jobs, according to a new report.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 6:00 am
Manufacturing remains vital to the success of Yorkshire’s economy, with the sector accounting for five per cent of the region’s economy and more than one in 10 jobs, according to a new report. Photo credit should read: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Although 2020 saw the number of manufacturing jobs in the region decline by 6,000 to 293,000, they accounted for 11 per cent of the region’s total workforce, according to Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation behind the report.

The sector has also seen significant growth since the start of the year, it added.

Manufacturing has been the UK’s best performing area in terms of orders. Output is also now on a firmly upward trajectory, in line with the sector overall.

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According to the report, which analyses the overall status of industry in the region over the last 12 months, the three biggest subsectors account for almost half of regional manufacturing output with food & drink accounting for almost a fifth of output (19.7 per cent).

This is followed by metal products given the concentration of steel in the region at 15.1 per cent, and then the chemicals subsector at 10.6 per cent.

Looking forward, the prospects for food and drink should improve significantly as restrictions ease, although the steel sector will continue to face challenges from a difficult international trading environment.

Yorkshire and the Humber remains an important export performer and accounts for five per cent of total UK manufacturing exports.

Exports to the EU are at 57 per cent of the regional total, meaning it has the second highest dependence on EU markets of any UK area (the national average is 48 per cent). This is followed by North America at 14 per cent and Asia & Oceania which accounts for 13 per cent.

June Smith, region director for Make UK in the North, said: “The report shows that industry continues to have a central role to play in the success of the Yorkshire & Humber economy.

“There are well documented challenges going forward, not least the major impact of Covid and the global economic downturn, the results of which are likely to be felt for some time to come.

“However, the region has clearly weathered the storm and, given the innovation we have seen over the last year, together with the acceleration of new technologies there are very positive signs for the future success.”

Steve Talbot, head of manufacturing for BDO in Yorkshire, added: “Yorkshire and Humber has a rich and diverse manufacturing base that is a large contributor to the local economy, employing almost 300,000 people in the region.

“Businesses were forced to rein in their investment plans and review their supply chains during the pandemic. Coupled with trade frictions as a result of Brexit, it’s been a tough year for the sector.

“It’s vital the Government smooths out critical issues such as customs procedures to avoid adding more layers of complexity and allow local manufacturers to build back stronger and better as we enter the second half of the year.”

Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation represents start-ups to multinationals, across engineering, manufacturing, technology and the wider industrial sector.

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James Mitchinson