Time to ditch manufacturing ‘urban myth’

Published:  20 June, 2014

Consumers are being urged to ditch urban myths and misconceptions about British manufacturing after research shows that three quarters (74%) mistakenly believe that the UK used to manufacture more goods 30 years ago (in the 80s) than it does today.

The findings, from EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, come ahead of Manufacturing, Science and Technology Week (23 – 27 June) at the International Festival for Business. They reveal that, while consumers are supportive of British manufacturing, they are largely in the dark about the true state of the sector today.

Manufacturing is driving the economic recovery, employing 2.6 million people and accounting for 11% of GDP. The sector is on track for 3.6% growth this year. But despite this, little over a third of consumers (36%) believe that the UK’s manufacturing industry is growing.

While such urban myths are potentially damaging, UK manufacturers will however be pleased to know that they still have consumers’ backing - over three quarters (76%) would be proud to work for a manufacturing company in the UK. More importantly given the ongoing drive to encourage more women into the sector, women would be equally as proud as men to work for a British manufacturer.

Manufacturers will also be cheered to know that over seven in ten consumers (72%) prefer to buy goods that have been made in Britain. Women are the biggest champions, with 75% agreeing that they would prefer to buy UK manufactured goods over those made elsewhere in the world – this falls to 71% amongst men.

There is also widespread recognition of the vital role manufacturing plays in the broader economy. An overwhelming 91% of consumers agree that manufacturing is essential for the UK economy to grow, although this rises to 97% amongst the over 55s. Those aged 25 to 34 are the least convinced, although even here 80% believe manufacturing is essential for growth.

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, says: “With the global spotlight on British manufacturing next week it is time to ditch the urban myth that Britain manufactured more in the 80s than it does today. The reality is that British manufacturing is a huge success story and is going from strength-to-strength, employing 2.6 million people and accounting for 11% of GDP. ‘Make it Britain’ is vibrant, vital and producing more today than it did 30 years ago. “

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