Sunday, 4 May 2014

CONTRIBUTING WRITER - The rise of UK automotive manuacture

With the global car market exploding and countries like China and the US dominating production, people often talk of a declining and comparatively lacklustre British automotive sector. In many ways, they’re right – Britain’s peak time for car manufacture was in the 70s, and the industry as whole began winding down rapidly after that. But that's not the end of the story.

Thanks to Henri Pearson for providing this insight into our automotive industry here in Britain, and providing some information you probably didn't know...
With the global car market exploding and countries like China and the US dominating production,
people often talk of a declining and comparatively lacklustre British automotive sector. In many
ways, they’re right – Britain’s peak time for car manufacture was in the 70s, and the industry as
whole began winding down rapidly after that.

Nobody’s more proud of British-made cars than British people, so it may be a little depressing to
learn that UK now sits 14th in the global rankings for car production, just above the Czech Republic.
At the top are the industry giants of China, America and Japan.

But all that might be changing – or at least improving. According to the SMMT there has been a
steady increase in UK car manufacture since 2009, which has recently been predicted to continue
and perhaps even surpass the golden period of the 1970s. As it stands, around 730 000 people are
employed in the UK car industry in some way, with 146 000 directly involved in the manufacturing
process.

The growth starts here with the job rates: there has been a 39% increase in the employment of
apprentices across the motoring industry over the last 2 years, with a predicted 100 000 new jobs to
be created in the sector by 2020. With this new uptake, it’s even believed that Britain may become
Europe’s the third largest vehicle producer by 2017.

Historically, the midlands has always been the home of the UK’s major car plants. For the most part,
this hasn’t changed: a fair few of the companies may be different, but it is still the midlands that
leads the country in terms of the sheer number of plants operating. But the glory is shared with
the north, and it’s in fact Sunderland that hosts the biggest motoring factory in Britain – the Nissan
car plant. There may not be the same names around as before, but the large amount of foreign
companies investing on UK soil is a testament to the growing reputation the nation has as a hub of
motoring innovation and advancement. To demonstrate that, below is a map of the major car plants
currently located in the UK. Hover your mouse over the icons to find out more about each factory
and brand.



So what do the experts say? To get an industry insight on what this growth means for Britain, Chaucer Direct spoke to the SMMT:

What variables do you feel explain the increase in Britain’s automotive industry in recent years? 
“The UK’s key strengths are in its engineering expertise, workforce flexibility and strong support from government. These factors, coupled with a robust domestic supply chain and the UK’s enduring automotive heritage, will see automotive manufacturing in the country grow for years to come.”

We also had the chance to speak to Steve Nash, Chief Executive of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI):

What variables do you feel explain the increase in Britain’s automotive industry in recent years?
“We have a highly skilled workforce so efficiency is high, quality is excellent and labour flexibility as well as labour relations are also excellent. Because of this manufacturers have been willing to invest in state of the art production capacity and facilities, and the government have assisted by creating the right incentives to support such investments.”

With this year’s Government Budget announcing a double in apprenticeships, what will this mean for the automotive industry?
“Whilst on the surface the announcement is extremely encouraging and shows the Government’s support of the flagship programme, we are still unclear of whether these are additional 100,000 apprenticeship places, and whether they will be allocated to specific sectors.

“With all of the changes going on with the Apprenticeship programme landscape at the moment, we also have to view this announcement a balanced view as the Government moves over the next couple of years to ‘overhaul’ the apprenticeship programme with the adoption of the Doug Richards recommendation (falling out of a review he conducted for the Government), which could see the content of Apprenticeship programmes change substantially over the next few years.”

So will this growth mean we see a modern version of the 1970s car boom? Possibly. Most industry predictions definitely point to a bigger future. Will we compete with China? Not yet – but watch this space!

No comments:

Post a Comment