The North East Manufacturing Roundtable, which was sponsored by Waterstons and Deloitte, brought together a group of business leaders and industry specialists to debate many of the issues and challenges that the sector faces in the region.
ref: insider news – insider media ltd
Manufacturing is the lifeblood of the economy in the North East, with its long association with heavy industry, a highly skilled workforce and with the North Sea opportunities adding to the mix.
A significant number of the region’s manufacturing companies are exporting and increasing turnovers as a result. New technology, new products and new investment is driving the region’s export success. And with rising costs, coupled with operational and logistic challenges, some of the region’s foreign-owned manufacturers are bringing their production activities back to the UK.
But despite the skills that the region possesses there are real concerns that the amount of skilled and experienced people are severely lacking to cope with the increased capacity. An ageing workforce is compounding the problem, and the need to persuade the brightest and best young people to enter the sector for well-paid career opportunities is a priority, while apprenticeships must continue to be promoted for the entry level in schools and colleges.
Investment in new technology and research and technology is needed by the North East manufacturing base to maintain this position and grow even further in the face of increased competition. Attracting inward investment, in the wake of Nissan and Hitachi Rail Europe, is also seen as crucial in order for the manufacturing sector to grow.