Manufacturing in the UK
When preparing to leave the Armed Forces many job seekers naturally look to the Service Sector as a potential route for their future career. This is not surprising, given that services make up almost 80% of UK GDP and offer a wide variety of careers along with excellent prospects for advancement and progression, especially in the larger, globally-focussed businesses such as banks, consultancies, law and accountancy firms. For those with practical skills though, the Manufacturing Sector should also be given serious consideration.
Despite a common perception that UK manufacturing is in decline, there are many opportunities for long and rewarding careers in the sector. Whilst there has undoubtedly been a decline in the scale of manufacturing – back in the 1970s it contributed a massive 25% to GDP – it still remains an important part of the UK economy. Manufacturing currently makes up approximately 10% of the UK economy and we are ranked as the 9th largest industrial nation, beating the likes of Turkey, Brazil and Russia.
Whilst the scale of UK manufacturing has declined over time, the nature of what we produce has also changed and this has been the reason for the recovery and growth in some areas. The UK now employs highly-skilled workers and produces a wealth of high-quality, high-tech products that are sold in both domestic markets and exported all over the World.
There are currently 2.7 million people that are directly employed in UK manufacturing and the products we make account for 45% of all UK exports. In these respects, the sector punches well above its weight and it is due to the quality of product and craftsmanship that there is high demand across the World for UK goods. Much trade is done, of course with the EU and we will all have to wait to see how Brexit affects things, but there is also a huge amount of trade done with the rest of the World and this looks likely to continue or even grow regardless of the turbulence created during the UK’s departure from the EU.
There are many reasons why a strong manufacturing industry is good news for those leaving the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. There is a skills shortage in the UK and that looks set to get worse over the next few years. The skills that Sailors and Marines possess, both technically and functionally, are already in demand and further pressures in the labour market will mean that this demand becomes more intense as time goes on.
The manufacturing sector requires highly motivated people to work within its industries. It requires those with technical skills: Mechanical and Electrical Engineers; Software and high-tech Systems Operators; and those who understand Pressure Systems; Lifting Equipment to name but some. The sector also requires people with enabling and supporting skills: Leaders; managers; analysts; quality assurance; HR; Finance and logistics specialists.
Manufacturing remains a relatively small part of the UK economy but at a tenth of the overall make up it is also a significant part. It looks set to continue as demand for high tech and high quality products increases across the globe. With many economists arguing that it will grow post-Brexit, it should be a sector that is given serious consideration for further investigation by anyone preparing to leave the Service.