After seven months of judging, the national winners for the 2014 EEF and Aldermore Future Manufacturing Awards will finally be announced on Wednesday, highlighting the industy’s leading lights and future stars.
With just a few days until the anxious wait is over for this year’s regional winners, EEF Chief Executive Terry Scuoler joins Aldermore to discuss the sector’s future and the most pressing challenges and opportunities for British manufacturers.
“The outlook for the manufacturing industry I’m pleased to say is positive,” he begins, echoing the positive sentiment expressed by attendees at the EEF Manufacturing Conference in February. “Following on from last year’s three per cent growth, we’re looking at just under two per cent for the manufacturing and industrial sector. Now that is still measurably above trend and it’s positive, so we’re building on this ‘renaissance’ as we call it, but let’s be clear, we will not yet secure this recovery until we see an increase in investment. That on-going requirement to invest is absolutely critical for us but we do enter this year with a positive outlook and that is very welcome.”
Despite this strong position, he concedes that external factors also place British manufacturing at risk, commenting:
“There are a number of pressing challenges for UK businesses and I’ve alluded to one of them a moment ago in terms of the need to invest, the need to have the courage to invest. But when we look beyond these shores there are a number of geopolitical headwinds out there. Sadly the Eurozone is still in recession, mired in recession, and of course when we look to the Middle East or the Eastern flank of our own continent in Europe there are significant uncertainties out there that are causing manufacturing and business leaders some concern. So yes this is positive, but let us be clear: there are some significant challenges to overcome.”
Looking ahead, Scuoler also has an important message to share with each of the UK political parties to explain how they can support the manufacturing sector and secure growth in years to come.
“In the run-up to the election I think our message to all political parties is abosultely clear: we need continuity here. We need to build on the relative success of the initiatives that the coalition government has brought in: the ‘levers of growth’, as we call them, in terms of innovation, in terms of support to exports and trying to reduce the burden of regulation. Our message to all parties, I hope, is pretty consistent: concentrate on growth and move forward.”
Aldermore hopes to see the manufacturing sector go from strength to strength and wishes each of the inspiring businesses and apprentices nominated for an EEF Future Manufacturing Award good luck on Wednesday.
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