Manufacturing in the North East

POSTED: 15th August 2013
IN: Industry news

Manufacturing in the North East is 'bucking the trend', according to Geoff Ford, Chairman of Ford Component Manufacturing and Ford Aerospace.

Indeed, the area, once famed for its industrial heritage, is quickly becoming recognised for its innovations in advanced manufacturing; innovations that are reaping the rewards.  Exports from the region were up 24 per cent year-on-year, while the Port of Sunderland recorded its busiest year for 24 years in 2012. 

Rising labour costs abroad, coupled with the skilled labour force in the United Kingdom, are seeing many businesses re-shore operations in the United Kingdom; the Nissan car plant in Sunderland, the most productive car plant in the UK, helped to contribute to an additional 12,500 jobs in the city. Meanwhile, the Hitachi factory in County Durham won an order worth £1.2 million to produce a fleet of state-of-the-art intercity trains.

As a city, Sunderland had the largest increase in private sector jobs in the North East between 2010 and 2012, recording a 15.2 per cent growth in employment (the average for the region was 2.9 per cent). Leader of Sunderland City Council, Paul Watson praised the manufacturing industry in the area for its contribution to the growth, commenting:

"We've promoted the city and lobbied to build a strong profile for Sunderland's business sectors, particularly in advanced manufacturing. We work very hard to attract new investment from companies worldwide, and to support the growth of local companies."

Praise for manufacturing in the region has also come from a national platform. Speaking in May, Business Secretary Vince Cable complemented the region on its 'strong reputation for quality engineering and manufacturing.'

It was a sentiment echoed by Andrew Hodgson, chief executive of SMD and vice-chairman of the North East LEP. Speaking earlier in the year, he highlighted the region's strength as a manufacturing hub, while also stressing the importance of a skilled labour force in the region. He commented:

"The North East is home to some great global manufacturing companies…As a region, the North East needs to do more to persuade the best, most talented young people coming out of university that apprenticeships can open the door to a great career in engineering or manufacturing."

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