It will take until 2022 for manufacturing to recover to its pre-COVID-19 growth track, new analysis has claimed.
In the first detailed analysis of the COVID-19 impact on UK manufacturers, the report – ‘Responding, Re-setting and Re-inventing UK Manufacturing Post Covid’ – sets out the scale of the challenges ahead for the sector.
It also highlights how quickly manufacturers responded at a time of national crisis – from filtration specialists who’ve turned their hand to creating PPE face masks, to signage firms diversifying their products to create social distancing signage for customers across Europe.
Looking forward, the report does predict that the sector will be at the forefront of helping the UK meet its net zero carbon target through a mix of investing in green, sustainable processes and maximising the use of digital technologies.
This can only happen through a re-purposed industrial strategy involving a partnership with Government and other stakeholders recognising the key value of the sector to the future of the economy and all regions of the UK.
The report makes clear the impact of COVID-19 on some of the world’s most established manufacturing nations, including the US and Germany, surmising that industrial production fell by 11.2% (monthly) and 11.6% (annually) respectively.
It reiterates the importance of manufacturers diversifying their customer base to help achieve growth, maintain demand and avoid over reliance any one specific market or customer.
“History has shown us that a strong industrial base provides the foundations needed to create a prosperous society. However, the UK has unfortunately become culturally tone deaf to the idea that manufacturing matters and can provide solutions to the challenges that we face, something the sector has aptly shown during this crisis,” said Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of Make UK.
“A new digital, greener and more sustainable economy will emerge from this with an opportunity to catapult manufacturing, science and engineering once again to centre stage in the UK.”
Paul Brooks, Head of Manufacturing at Santander, added: “Our manufacturers are the beating heart of the UK economy, and although sobering, this detailed analysis is vital to understand how businesses can rebuild as restrictions are eased.
“While Covid-19 presents the most testing time for manufacturers at both ends of the supply chain, their aptitude to handle shock and change for the better is enduring, and we stand ready to support them.”