Last year, the T&G warned that 2029 was “Year Zero” for British manufacturing. That is when, on current job loss trends, we face wipe-out. We were criticised as doom-mongers.
Yet, in an array of bewilderingly mixed statistics, it is clear we are losing more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs a year. Worse still, from a strategic, economic view, they are not being replaced on a like-for-like basis.
There is no doubt manufacturers are having a tough time, in spite of the economic stability Labour has overseen. The effects of globalisation, coupled with higher energy costs – largely the result of suppliers’ and producers’ greed – are costing businesses dear. What we need, and what we’ll be calling for at this month’s TUC conference, is a much clearer and positive industrial strategy.
The Commons trade and industry select committee is holding an inquiry into the future of manufacturing in Britain. Many would wager that the conclusions will not make happy reading.
Manufacturing in Britain is fighting an uphill battle.
Not all of it all the time. But for most firms it is hard going. Manufacturing now accounts for less than 15% of the economy’s output – about half the size of the business and financial services sector and similar to distribution, hotels and catering.
More than a million older people cannot find work because companies are not prepared to invest in training or make minor adjustments for disabilities, the TUC has claimed.
In a report published yesterday, the union organisation said that industry and the government had to defuse the “demographic time bomb” of an ageing workforce being pushed out of jobs and on to benefits.
The study showed that more than one million unemployed people aged between 50 and 65 wanted a job. Only one in eight people in this age bracket who were not working had retired early and were classed as “affluent professionals”, while many were surviving on state support, said the report.