The UK is now world’s ninth largest industrial nation

27th September 2016
Lanna Cooper

British manufacturing has continued to climb up the global rankings as the UK continues to enjoy an industrial renaissance and embraces the fourth industrial revolution according to facts and figures published this week by EEF and Santander.

Launching the 2016 manufacturing fact card, the data shows that Britain is now the ninth largest industrial nation with an annual output worth $247bn. This accounts for some ten percent of Gross Value Added for the UK economy, while manufacturing accounts for 14% of business investment and 68% of Business R & D. Jonny Williamson Web Editor of The Manufacturer said: "This is excellent news for the UK economy and it bodes well for the future given the recent Brexit vote."

This positive picture is reflected in data on employment and earnings where, according to the OECD, UK manufacturers have outperformed any country except the US for job creation since 2010; while since 2013 average earnings have risen by three percent, twice the rate of the economy overall. In contrast to common perception, manufacturing also offers high value, well-paid jobs, with average earnings of £31,489 p/a compared to £27,607 for the whole economy.

The largest individual sector is food and drink (17%), while the chemicals and pharmaceuticals and transport sectors both account for 14% of output each. Chemicals and pharmaceuticals is also by some distance the largest individual sector driving innovation, spending over a third of the total annual manufacturing R & D.

The changing picture of modern manufacturing is also reflected regionally with London and the South East the biggest manufacturing area, producing almost £28bn output. This has been accelerated by Industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial technology revolution sweeping the nation.

The more traditional powerhouses of the North West (£23.7bn), West and East Midlands (both £16.4bn each) remain significant contributors, however, being particularly strong in the Aerospace and Automotive sectors.

Chief economist of EEF, Lee Hopley explained: “Given the importance of manufacturing to the economy, it’s vital that we educate all stakeholders about its real value and contribution to growth. This is especially important in a post-Brexit world where we have to look at possibly all new avenues of generating growth and investment.”

Head of manufacturing, Santander Corporate & Commercial, Charles Garfit commented: “It is interesting to see that there has been growth in the non-traditional sectors and regions showing the increasing importance that manufacturing has across the country.”

Adrian Sell Business Development Manager at Hennik Research and The Manufacturer Smart Factory Expo said: “It is vital that the manufacturing sector truly understands the reality and implications of Industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution from the boardroom to the factory floor. The interest in what Industry 4.0 technology can do for manufacturing is evident in the speed of adoption across the UK, and not only in specific sectors such as automotive as we have seen in the past. In order to remain the world’s ninth largest industrial nation, UK manufacturers are urged to attend the only showcase exhibition dedicated to the latest technologies of Industry 4.0”. The event takes place from November 2-3rd at NEC Birmingham alongside the Advanced Engineering Show.  

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