Northern manufacturing driving economic recovery, survey shows

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According to figures from the final quarter of 2022, Yorkshire and Humber is the biggest manufacturing employer across all regions in the UK, as the area experiences a surge in growth.

A recent report has revealed that a total of 315,084 people work within the manufacturing sector in the region, now overtaking the North West. Yorkshire and Humber also saw an increase in employees in the previous 12-month period to Dec 2020, despite the pandemic, as half of UK regions recorded a drop.

Its workforce is now larger than the North West which has fallen to second place, with a total of 314,483 people working within manufacturing, a dip of 11,779 from Dec 2021. However, this belies the significant investment being ploughed into the region over the past few years and an actual 11.91% increase of its workforce figures which took a hit in 2020, demonstrating impressive economic recovery which looks set to continue.    

In total, Yorkshire and Humber accounted for 11.94% of the entire UK manufacturing workforce across all twelve regions, above the national average of other regions throughout the UK, in which on average account for 8.33% of the total UK manufacturing workforce.

These statistics, supplemented by further plans of developments in the region, demonstrate that Yorkshire and Humber is spearheading the UK’s manufacturing growth as a sector. Possible contributing factors to the increase are said to be down to strong demand in the steel and food and drink sectors, where the region has a significant presence, boosted by investment in infrastructure and construction projects.

This encouraging performance shows no signs of slowing down either, with multiple investments in the area promising the creation of yet more jobs in the region. This is seen with the recent announcement on the go-ahead for the Humber Freeport’s Final Business Case, which aims to bring at least 7,000 new jobs and long-term investment to the area.

Humber’s Ports handle the materials that supply 10% of the nation’s energy, 25% of the UK’s fuel for its vehicles, and almost a third of Britain’s national timber. Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has launched a pioneering low carbon aircraft project to create over 1,200 new jobs across South Yorkshire, thanks to a £7m loan investment to enable the company to begin utilising facilities, talent and supply chains in South Yorkshire.

BRC Manufacturing, the UK’s largest supplier of steel reinforcement and associated products for concrete, is also pumping £4m into its site at Barugh Green, near Barnsley. Furthermore, Yorkshire and Humber manufacturers can now access support to embrace digitalisation through a £4.9m Made Smarter scheme, ranging from digital diagnostics, intensive technical support and capital expenditure grants.

These findings also support the recent Make UK/BDO Q1 Manufacturing Outlook Surveu which also unveiled a marked turn up for the books in the final quarter of 2022.

Luke Smoothy, founder and director of Get It Made, said: “The North is proving to be one of the UK’s leading dynamic and innovative hubs and a hotbed of investment, something also supported by the Government’s launch of the new growth council aimed at supporting and driving growth and resilience in the region’s manufacturing sector.

“As the domestic and global markets have improved, so there is a sense with manufacturers in Yorkshire and Humber that business confidence has improved, with output and orders forecast to grow substantially, reflected in further boosting job prospects. However, this good news is tempered by the continuing war in Ukraine, growing inflationary pressures and the need for long-term energy support, as well as assistance to attract a sustainable workforce across every area of the UK.”

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