The engineering sector is hugely important to the UK economy, attributing to more than a quarter (27.1 per cent) of GDP. Boasting outstanding research facilities and supply chains, the industry generates an annual turnover of almost £1.21 trillion and is at the forefront of the UK’s economic recovery.
Alongside leaving the European Union, climate change and environmental concerns are at the top of the political agenda. The engineering sector is placed into a position of leadership as the UK makes the transition to a low carbon economy. The dramatic upheaval of infrastructure that the transition will demand in order to meet renewable energy targets will be both a challenge and an opportunity for new growth. However, lack of investment and skills shortages have been identified as the main obstacles threatening the industry’s success. Recruitment programmes are starting to be implemented in order to attract more people into the sector but, with more than half of engineering staff over 45 and only 67% of the c20,000 engineering graduates a year entering the industry, the task will be steep. Addressing the gender imbalance in UK engineering, which has the lowest percentage of female engineers in Europe, is also a priority. With such an important role in leading the UK into low carbon technology, the industry will have to work together collectively with education and the Government.
With around 3 million engines and 1.8 million cars produced every year, the sector amounts to 0.8 per cent of UK GDP. Overseas demand has grown production in the UK. However, with South East Asia set to significantly increase their global market share in automotive manufacturing, the UK must strive to increase its technology, production and business performance in order to continue to deliver exceptional customer value and attractive investment opportunities.
Climate change and consideration of air pollution will play a key role in shaping the industry’s future, particularly in terms of the development of the electric automotive sector. New environmental and safety legislation including the ban on sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040, will have a heavy impact on the industry. Risks and opportunities relating to Brexit will present themselves in the automotive sector, since the sector is reliant on exports and imports of components. The UK Automotive industry is arguably well placed to face such challenges.