Downturn in workers has led to raised productivity and output

28 October 2014

Perceptions that manufacturing is disappearing from the UK are wide of the mark, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Despite the number of workers employed falling significantly since the late 1970s, total manufacturing output is now actually slightly higher. It has declined in relative size, though, as other sectors have grown more quickly. Its share has fallen from 36 per cent of the economy in 1948 to around 10 per cent in 2013.

Speaking at a recent event, ONS chief economist Joe Grice presented analysis showing that productivity in the manufacturing
industry has risen by around 2.8 per cent a year since 1948, compared with 1.5 per cent in the service industry. While only 8 per cent of UK jobs are now in manufacturing, compared with 25 per cent in 1978, today's workers are significantly better skilled and
more experienced.

"The manufacturing industry has changed markedly over the past 60 years," said Grice. "It is becoming more productive, despite a steady fall in the number of people employed and broadly stable capital stock, and economic downturns in the 1970s, early 1990s,
and notably 2008-9.

"There are several factors at work: a better quality and more skilled workforce; a shift from the production of low to high productivity goods; an improvement in the information technology base; more investment in research and development; and a more integrated global economy. Exporting firms generally are associated with higher productivity and foreign-owned firms in the UK generally experience higher productivity than domestic firms."

In this month's edition of Converting Today we have a series of Ask the Experts features, providing insight into anilox rollers, web
inspection and colour management, corona treatment, static control and label converting. We also have further features on the
digital printing maket, including insight from Drupa, and our slitting and rewinding article will take a look at some of the recent
developments and installations in this market.

We finish with an interview with Oliver Bell, the executive vice president of Hydro Rolled Products.

As always, happy reading, and if I can provide any support or answer any questions do not hesitate to contact me.

Matthew Rogerson,

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