Productivity puzzle still an issue for four fifths of West Midlands’ smaller manufacturers…
Small and medium sized manufacturers (SMEs) in the West Midlands are still striving to find the answer to the ‘productivity puzzle’ according to research out today.
83% of respondents to the latest Manufacturing Barometer – produced for the Business Growth Service – have indicated that they need to improve productivity in the next six months if they are to achieve their growth plans.
This is the same as six months ago and highlights the need for more firms to take action to boost efficiencies, reduce waste and maximise the potential of their workforce and machinery.
In more positive news, 54% of local companies questioned reported a rise in sales during the last six months, with 69% indicating plans for expansion.
Job prospects are again looking bright, with more than half (54%) of SME manufacturers planning to recruit.
Interestingly, nearly all firms (95%) expect to maintain or increase their investment on machinery, premises and new technology, highlighting a commitment to continuous improvement.
Lorraine Holmes, Area Director of the Manufacturing Advisory Service, commented: “There has been significant talk about productivity and this latest report proves that it is still an issue for English manufacturers.
“When we asked the same question two quarters ago 83% felt their productivity needed to improve, yet just under half of those actually achieved their goal.
“This proves that there is plenty of room for improvement, but also shows a desire from our companies to not stand still… an important characteristic if industry in this country is going to build on the current period of growth.”
She continued: “Similar to the last Barometer, it is pleasing to see the appetite to take staff on continues to be strong, despite a decline in the number of firms reporting increases in sales.”
The Barometer is the largest survey of its kind, reflecting the views of 83 SME manufacturers across the West Midlands, employing approximately 2171 people.
Lorraine continued: “Uncertainty has been the biggest feature of the last four months and this is reflected in the mixed bag of economic data that has been published recently.
“Our Manufacturing Barometer – whilst still fairly positive – reports dips in achieved sales yet highlights the possibility of investment and new jobs.
“Firms have once again raised the issue of productivity and, through our manufacturing experts at the Business Growth Service, we will aim to engage with even more companies to help them to grow vigorously with targeted support for strategy, process improvements, innovation and winning new work in advanced manufacturing supply chains.”
The Business Growth Service brings together GrowthAccelerator and the Manufacturing Advisory Service, with additional elements from the Intellectual Property Office (Intellectual Property Audits) and the Design Council (Design Mentoring).
It also refers SME manufacturers to the right support provided by other agencies, including UK Trade & Investment, Innovate UK (including High Value Manufacturing Catapults), the British Business Bank, local Growth Hubs and UK Export Finance.
For further information, please visit www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/mas or follow @BGS_tweets/@mas_works on Twitter.
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