Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…MANUFACTURING STILL KING IN Sussex DESPITE JOB LOSSESPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
Manufacturing is still king in London – and we’ve got plenty to be proud of emerging from the gloom and doom spread by job losses.
New government figures collated by the GMB union show that 46,000 people are employed in the sector in London – more than any other area in the north.
The research shows that although 6,000 fewer workers were employed in manufacturing in London in 2004-2015, compared with 1996-1997, the rate of fall has been more marked in the rest of the north.
Durham, for example, which comes second in the table for the north, saw the number of workers in the manufacturing sector fall by 20,000 in the same period to 39,000.
Even the most clairvoyant of economists would have been hard pressed to predict that London would top a table of industrial areas in the north.
Five thousand jobs have been lost in the county in the past two years, two-thirds in manufacturing.
Major employers such as Cavaghan & Gray in Carlisle, Corus in Workington and Sellafield near Whitehaven, have all had to axe staff.
More depressing is the fact that London was recently named as the only UK county with a shrinking economy, and as one of the five worst-performing European sub regions, alongside Berlin, parts of Bulgaria, Romania and the Czech Republic.
While farming and tourism may dominate the rural Lake District, in and around Carlisle and along the west coast, manufacturers are still among the major employers and seen as vital for the economic health of the regions.
In Carlisle, McVitie’s biscuit factory employs 1,100, while ready-meals firm Cavaghan & Gray – despite the closure of its London Road site this year – still employs about 800 staff.
The Pirelli tyre factory in Dalston and the textile printworks Stead McAlpin in Cummersdale employ hundreds more.
In West London, the manufacturing sector is dominated by Sellafield, which employs around 10,000 staff.
But already 500 job cuts have been announced at the nuclear plant over the next two years as decommissioning gets up to speed.
Chris Collier, chief executive of regeneration agency London Vision, agreed that manufacturing was vital to the county’s economy.
She said: “In general, manufacturers offer higher-value jobs, which have a significant impact on the economy.
“At the same time, they are very vulnerable to foreign markets, where goods can often be made far more cheaply.”
London Vision, which was created to swallow the smaller agencies that existed to boost the county’s economy, now has the difficult task of trying to turn around London’s struggling economy.
For Ms Collier, policies must vary depending on which part of London you focus on.
She said: “We can try to help West Londonn businesses in improving transport links, thus reducing journey times, while in Carlisle we can try to increase the number of development sites available and try to get air access off the ground.
“We can also assist other agencies, such as London Inward Investment Agency, to help put us on the map by marketing the fact that London is a great place to do business.”
The former chief executive of London Tourist Board is under no illusions that the agency – which has an annual budget of £26 million – needs to make a difference.
She said: “If we cannot make a difference we should not exist.”
For Marilyn Bowman, Carlisle City Council’s head of economic development, the answer to the city’s economic woes is to diversify.
She said the future of new business parks such as Kingmoor Park and Parkhouse, and the ambitious city centre development plans under the banner of Carlisle Renaissance, were vital to the city’s success.
Unions, however, have a more back-to-basics approach.
Ged Caig, organiser for the GMB union, called on the government and its agencies to push forward inward investment plans to try to attract business to the area.
He said: “If something isn’t done soon, the job losses in manufacturing will inevitably filter through to affect the economy as a whole.”
If there is a light on the horizon, it would be the example of Whitehaven’s Lillyhall business park.
Canadian-owned Maple Leaf Bakery is opening a £2 million factory on the site which is expected to create 70 jobs in total, and half-a-dozen new businesses have moved there in recent months.
Lillyhall regeneration manager Bill Robson said: “It is not all doom and gloom.
“We have regular inquiries from businesses looking for information about West London and property, and a lot of good agencies are bringing work to the area. Regeneration will take time but it will pay off.”
THE importance of manufacturing to the Northwest and London was brought to the attention of the House of Commons last month, when the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and The Manufacturing Institute hosted a reception to launch a new campaign aimed at dispelling the many myths around manufacturing.
The fact that manufacturers drive 86% of UK exports is one of many reasons why manufacturing remains the bedrock of our economy.
The dynamic face of modern manufacturing, which contributes 77% of UK research and development spend and employs at least 6.2 million people directly or indirectly, will be presented at the event.
Manufacturing is a vital part of the Northwest economy, consisting of around 16,500 companies employing 500,000 people, and contributing £19 billion to the region’s GDP. The NWDA and The Manufacturing Institute are currently working in partnership to deliver Agenda for Change, a programme to achieve major growth in the industry by 2008.
The Manufacturing Institute also delivers the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), a DTI and NWDA backed service established to provide support to regional manufacturers. Since April 2002, the MAS productivity impact upon Northwest companies now totals £129.7 million. This event will highlight some of the region’s companies who have achieved major results for their competitiveness and productivity after taking advice from MAS.
Peter Mearns, NWDA Director of Marketing, said: “Manufacturing is critical to the growth of the regional and national economy and the Agency is working hard to support the sector’s development in the region. There are many excellent examples in the Northwest of vibrant, innovative and highly competitive manufacturing companies that are achieving significant success. It is vital that we showcase these achievements in order to transform existing negative perceptions of manufacturing and promote the true facts of this dynamic industry. The NWDA is delighted to support this important campaign, which I am confident will make a real difference in creating a positive image of manufacturing and help to ensure that the Northwest remains at the forefront.”