Motor industry looks forward to a brighter future

23 November 2004 #SMMT News

The findings of Automotive Manufacturing – the Industry Perspective, SMMT’s second annual issues survey, were revealed tonight at SMMT’s Annual Dinner. Conducted by MORI, the survey points to an industry in more upbeat mood this year. Findings suggest:

  • A brighter outlook for both company and sector-wide growth 

  • More confidence in competitiveness compared to Europe and rest of the world

  • Level 3 skills recruitment and quality of training are still key concerns 

  • Cost burden of new legislation remains an industry-wide headache

SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said, ‘We are under no illusions about the challenges facing the industry in the years ahead. Nevertheless, this second survey of senior people shows that the industry is in more optimistic mood than it was a year ago.

‘Better quality training, the importance of research and development and improving competitiveness; these familiar themes emerge from the survey this year. However, initiatives like the Automotive Academy and Industry Forum training are now in place to address some of these issues. In supporting these programmes, as well as by working more closely with government, I am confident that this great industry will continue to grow.’ 
This year’s survey reveals that:

  • Growth is expected by most companies in the next five years. 81% of those surveyed say that prospects are good compared to 78% last year. 72% see best growth prospects in greater penetration of international markets.

  • A total of 84% of businesses believe they are competitive when compared to similar companies operating in Europe. This compares with a figure of 70% in 2003. Globally, the figure drops to 36%, although this has risen from 27% last year. 

  • Nearly two thirds, or 65% of responses, indicate that it is hard to recruit appropriately skilled employees. Level 3 staff recruitment is a concern for 28% while 31% believe the industry focus should be on employing those with appropriate engineering skills.

  • 83% of companies are committed to more support for employer training and education while The Automotive Academy is now recognised by 81% of respondents.

  • Research and development is an increasingly important activity for our business in the future, say 84%.

  • 95% agree that the burden of legislation will add significant costs to their business in the next five years.

  • Transport infrastructure makes it difficult for UK companies to remain competitive according to 86% of responses, little change to the 84% reporting the same concern in 2003.

  • An appeal to the government for more commitment to manufacturing comes from 95% of respondents to the survey.

The report confirms many of the positive views reflected outside the industry, for example in the recent Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee report on vehicle manufacturing. While mirroring some of the industry’s concerns, the report said: 
The UK retains a successful automotive industry, with most of the largest vehicle manufacturers having some sort of presence here. The UK also has an established reputation for specialist engineering and design. 
Automotive Manufacturing – the Industry Perspective is published in full below. Supported by automotive law specialists Pinsents, the report reflects the views of 80 companies employing more than 100,000 people in the UK automotive sector from component and aftermarket suppliers to car and commercial vehicle manufacturers.


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