Sussex Business Times - Issue 403 2016

Page 17

The Future of Manufacturing Following on from our article last month about Industry 4.0 and how the manufacturing industry has some catching up to do, we now look at how our decision to leave the EU may further damage the manufacturing sector. What was the climate like before Brexit, and how will it affect the future of the industry as a whole?

The recent EU referendum result has caused much Insight controversy across the country, with many company owners and workers becoming more and more concerned about the effects this national change might have on their businesses. Following on from the new Prime Minister, Theresa May’s appointment, along with the uncertainty of the future decision to be made on the continued membership of the European Union – which will take place within the next two years – business owners and UK manufacturers in particular have been left with their own worries of how such an exit could cause problems for their companies and employees. Approximately 185,000 EU nationals

work in the UK manufacturing sector and, according to The Manufacturer’s Organiastion, 50% of the UK’s exports go to the EU, while just 15% of the £11 billion the EU invests in innovation each year actually ends up in the UK. The UK manufacturing sector - at least the majority of those within it - had a lot to say about the possibility of coming out of the EU, strongly supporting the ‘remain’ campaigners by arguing how important Union membership is from a manufacturing business point of view. As a whole, there are very little business leaders and owners within the manufacturing sector who believe that there will be any kind of gain from Brexit, and vice versa, but at the moment it’s too soon to tell whether this is the case or not. One of the main concerns UK

“Over 400 businesses took part in this survey, and of these, 27% stated that ‘potential’ Brexit was having damaging effects on business, while 8% said it was having a strongly damaging impact” manufacturers have on this topic is that the decreasing level of trade access to the European market will affect the production of manufacturing. A recent survey conducted by Markit/CIPS back in May - over a month before the allimportant vote took place - showed that foreign demands for goods from UK 17