Engineering without compromise

Written by: Tim Fryer | Published:

In terms of manufacturing 2016 did not get off to a great start with news of further devastation to the steel industry

In terms of manufacturing 2016 did not get off to a great start with news of further devastation to the steel industry. This may be caused by short term factors – comparatively high UK energy costs and dumping of cheap Chinese steel – but despite Redcar being in mothballs, much of the capacity lost will not be recovered when market positions change. While this understandably hit the headlines, what might have gone unnoticed were the positive results from the car industry in 2015, which showed that 1.6 million cars were made in the UK last year – a ten year high. Mini, Toyota and Vauxhall were all up and the star of the show was Jaguar Land Rover, who now make nearly half a million cars a year. Beyond manufacturing, what also often slips under the radar in the UK is the strength of engineering in specific high value or advance technology sectors. Our Vision 2020 supplement (if you didn’t receive a copy in the post it is available for download on the website), surveyed a number of leading companies who identified sectors where the UK is leading the field. Such sectors include automotive, aerospace, rail, medical, robotics, even oil & gas despite the plummeting oil prices – all areas where the quality of the engineering is non-negotiable. There remains the concern thata healthy engineering sector needs to feed a healthy manufacturing industry and, despite the success of the car industry, the other sectors are not high volume. It would take a lot of companies making satellites to replace what has been lost in steel, shipbuilding et al. However, the jobs that are being created are in sectors that are high-value, growing and, importantly from the perspective of attracting new recruits, they are interesting as well. So while Tim Peake has captured the imagination of the British science and technology sector from the International Space Station, there is plenty going on on home soil to be optimistic about as well.

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