It’s difficult to believe a year has passed since the controversial Brexit vote. In a short space of time, we have already seen a decade’s worth of political and economic changes taking place across UK industries, and with Brexit negotiations still to take shape, there could be a lot more to come.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding these changes, reflected in the rise and fall of the pound of late, UK Manufacturing appears to be riding the wave of the Brexit vote. For example, at the turn of the summer solstice, it was reported that total UK Manufacturing orders had reached their highest levels since 1988.
Government optimism for British aerospace
While these orders predominantly came from the food and drink, tobacco and chemicals sectors, the British aerospace sector has also seen a number of positive developments in recent months. Notably, the industry has enjoyed 95% growth in the last six years thanks to increased exports, with a total sales figure of £31.1 billion reported in 2016.
These positive trends are clearly making an impact on the UK Government, who recently announced a forthcoming £4.7 billion investment into areas including artificial intelligence (AI), manufacturing and aerospace. As part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge fund, global and commercial businesses will see direct investments into research for long-term sustainable projects, including a generous £26 million for space industry and civil aerospace technologies.
“The forefront of research innovation”
Speaking about the Industrial Strategy Challenge, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark said: “As part of our plan for Britain, this government wants to create a modern industrial strategy to support the key sectors of our economy and spread jobs, prosperity and opportunity around the whole country.
“The funding shows our determination and commitment to making sure the UK remains at the very forefront of research innovation for years to come.”
Of course, whilst these investments will invariably benefit the UK’s 230,000 aerospace employees, there could understandably be some concern about long-term job security in the sector as a result of advancing technology. In November 2016, research from Accenture revealed that 85% of industry executives were expecting AI to have a “significant impact” within the next three years. Moreover, across the UK Manufacturing industry as a whole, businesses are facing the challenge of increased productivity without increasing employment opportunities.
Looking to the next generation
So how can British aerospace manufacturing turn technology from a potential threat into an opportunity for future employment? Firstly, workers within this sector need to embrace the shifts in production driven by this technology. Accenture’s Managing Director of Aerospace and Defence, John Schmidt, says that increasing pressures to deliver on time require a more “hands on” approach. The TS Grale team believe, there are many top level decisions to be made, particularly in executive level roles. With this “hands on” approach, the value of a human being’s decision remains just as valid, if not more so, with these new technologies.
The key, then, is to invest in training new generations who can step up and use their skills to bolster UK aerospace manufacturing. Thankfully, the wheels are already in motion for this vision, with the proposed Industrial Strategy Challenge already furthering initiatives such as the former Coalition Government’s Aerospace Growth Partnership. As part of the 10 “strategic pillars” of the Industrial Strategy Challenge, new technical education systems will be put into practice for young people who choose not to go to university, with a particular focus on STEM, digital skills and numeracy.
Where TS Grale are concerned, experienced recruiters will be able to facilitate this generational shift by keeping a close eye on up and coming talent, with a view to hiring these young people in executive roles in the future.
Second only to the US, the British aerospace industry is one of the biggest on the planet, with employees across 3,000 companies. With an increase in government spending and a focus on making the best of technology for the next generation, there is no reason why manufacturing in British aerospace cannot continue to maintain this upward trend.