Scottish manufacturers say that they are feeling the pinch of Brexit

Scottish manufacturers are blaming Brexit and the fall in the pound against the euro for the loss of staff in their businesses. Nearly a quarter of them say they have lost employees or risk losing them because of issues such as the rights of European workers after Brexit.

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While half of the businesses responding to a survey expect to increase employee numbers in the next 12 months, many of them are also anticipating recruitment difficulties in finding staff with the appropriate skill levels. The hope is that increases in training opportunities and in the number of apprenticeships being offered will begin to make up for the shortfall in skilled staff.

Growing confidence, but risks ahead

These findings are contained in the Manufacturing and Engineering Report 2017/18. You can find the full report here at The report also says that the engineering and manufacturing sector in Scotland is manifesting growing confidence. Nearly two thirds of firms in the sector are predicting growth over the next year.

This is despite continuing pressure to reduce expenses because raw material costs are rising. More than eight out of every ten companies were expecting their production costs to keep rising over the next year. Businesses are also aware that they need to invest in new technologies to remain competitive.

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Manufacturing sector key to future employment growth

In order to balance the books, firms will not only have to cut costs but also improve productivity and raise selling prices. Scottish Economic Secretary Keith Brown commented that while the current figures were very encouraging, a robust manufacturing sector would be critical to the availability of skilled jobs in the future.

High-tech engineering firms outside Scotland such as Aptech, who have introduced innovative developments in sack tip equipment and pneumatic conveying systems, would probably echo these sentiments.

For Scotland, growth in manufacturing output in the last year has been strong, sustained by the restarting of steel production at Dalzell. The Scottish Government stepped in to help save the plant and is also active in assisting expansion at the Lochaber aluminium smelter.

The Scots have their sights set on Scotland becoming a world-beating location for manufacturing. To this end, they are setting up the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland to foster the skills, enterprise and leadership needed to realise this vision.

Richard Anderson


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