10th August 2017 2 minutes read

UK manufacturing is booming. but is the job market moving with it?

If you have been following current industry headlines, you will know that the UK manufacturing sector has reclaimed its clout as a prosperous and growing global marketplace with order books swelling to a near three-decade high in June this year.

Despite the Brexit-induced weak pound, Britain’s competitiveness has been given a second wind. In recent months, we’ve seen BAE Systems signing a £3.7BN contract to build war ships, a deal that’s secured over 2,000 jobs until 2035, BMW committing to manufacture it’s new electric Mini at its UK based Cowley plant and the UK Aerospace sector reporting substantial year on year growth with a £31BN return to the UK economy.

When productivity has grown by 19% across British manufacturing, it is vital that this previously static sector transforms rapidly in order to keep up with demand and to catch up with core competitor countries such as Germany, USA & Japan, ensuring that the best strategic minds are in place to deliver this change. As Tim Pryce, CEO of Icon Aerospace Technology stated, “for too long senior management have milked established success rather than focusing on innovation and improvement which now, as productivity across the wider UK industries slow, is becoming evident”.

Still in 2017, we see numerous organisations opting for large and often very costly management consultancies to help navigate this new phase of development, as opposed to embedding new leadership with the right skills to navigate the transformation. The vital mistake here is, firstly, the oversight of aligning internal talent to the requirements at hand and, secondly, failing to outsource industry-specific and qualified executive interim managers to oversee core projects while new talent is being sourced and existing managers are being efficiently brought up to speed.

It was tempting to believe that a revival in manufacturing would help to reverse trends in depleting job creation. Unfortunately, however, changes in technology and trade patterns mean that these assumptions are far off the mark. Instead the transformation of British manufacturing is creating a niche industry, better suited to a smaller number of highly skilled people; the executive interim and programme managers who will be able to embed change and oversee the transformation while developing the existing workforce for the requirements of the new world.

It is therefore unlikely that we will see mass job creation as popularly preached by politicians, however, there is a great opportunity to reignite the 1,000+ highly specialised executive interim market to assist with optimising the opportunities present.

On this point, Alec McCullie the Associate Director of Connected & Autonomous Vehicle technology at KPMG said, “timing is important and now is the best time to invest for the longer-term future.” Victoria Clarke, an economist at Investec, adds, “looking to July’s figures and ­beyond, I would definitely say there is scope for improvement given the uplift externally focused manufacturers are now seeing.”

To find out how Green Park can support your executive interim management requirements in manufacturing, please contact Guy Herbertson on guy.herbertson@green-park.co.uk.

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