New Report: U.K.'s Manufacturing Image On the Mend

March 13, 2012
A recently published 22-page report, titled, Public Perceptions of Manufacturing and Efforts to Rebalance the U.K. Economy, looks at perceptions about the current state of manufacturing in the U.K., its future and a comparison with United States manufacturing.

With a lot favorable recognition of late by the U.S. national press (and Clint Eastwood), U.S. manufacturing is seeing a bit of a boost in public perception. A recent U.K. report, from the Centre for Industry and Government, Cambridge University, also sees an uptick in the U.K's manufacturing image. The findings, via a survey of 1,452 U.K. respondents, suggest the public recognizes manufacturing has become high-tech (50 percent) and this shift requires higher-skilled workers. The report emphasizes that point by saying "there has been a significant shift in the skills base of manufacturing since the mid-1990s, with the percentage of those employed in manufacturing educated to degree level or equivalent rising from 9.7 to 17.1 percent between 1994 and 2009. The reality of manufacturing as a high-skilled and high-technology sector does not appear to be an issue for the U.K. public.

However, there are concerns with job security and salary levels." Conducted in January 2012, this U.K. suvey shows the public dosen't envision high-paying jobs in the U.K. manufacturing sector. Only 16 percent of respondents "agreed" that well-paying manufacturing jobs are there and 74 percent "agreed" that manufacturing jobs are the first jobs to be moved overseas. 

U.S. vs U.K.
Citing a Deloitte and Manufacturing Institute survey from 2011 on manufacturing perception in the U.S, the U.K. report points to strong differences between the two countries. It says,"a greater number of U.S. respondents view manufacturing as high-tech (18 perecent higher), with better wages (28 percent higher) and requiring high skills (23 percent higher). Perhaps most worryingly is that while 33 percent of U.S. respondents would encourage their children to have a career in manufacturing, only 20 percent of U.K. respondents would do the same." These findings show a subtle lack of confidence by the U.K. public in the future of manufacturing, especially in encouraging budding engineering students.  
 
Other notable findings include: 
 
> Manufacturing in the U.K. currently represents approximately 11 percent of GDP (based on 2009 figures) and so while the peak of this distribution is roughly correct, there is a significant tail to out to respondents who indicated that manufacturing represents over 50 percent of GDP.
 
> The U.K. public strongly agree (72 percent) that there the share of the economy based on manufacturing needs to significantly increase and that such rebalancing needs to include a geographic rebalancing between the South East and the rest of the country (59 percent agree). 
 
The author of the report is Dr. Finbarr Livesey, director, Centre for Industry and Government, Cambridge University. 

To view the report, click here

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