Q4 2016-2017 NATIONAL

Senior decision makers within small and medium sized manufacturers have shared their views on maximising workforce efficiency to support productivity and growth.

The Core Trends

SME manufacturers across the UK have witnessed a boost in their sales turnover in the past six months increasing from 57% to 61% and up an astounding 13% from the same period last year

Respondents remained optimistic for the next six months too, with 69% expecting their sales turnover to increase.

Investment over the past 6 months in new machinery has remained even with only a 1% increase since the previous quarter and a 1% decrease in technology spend.

Finally, there has been a 7% increase in staff numbers for businesses over the past 6 months, perhaps reflective of the spike in sales turnover for 61% of businesses.  When asked how they expect staff numbers to change over the next six months, 48% of businesses said they inspected an increase, up from 2% last quarter.

The Special Focus

In this quarter’s survey we sought to understand SME manufacturers thoughts on maximising their workforce efficiency to support productivity and growth.

The findings highlighted that the main barrier to productivity and growth for manufacturers seems to be skills and expertise within the business, closely followed by their workforce efficiency.  Other barriers included cost increases from supply chains, the lack of availability in suitable industrial property and reaching new markets.

Senior decision makers have revealed they believe strong leadership on the shop floor, motivation of non-management employees and the skills of the management team are all important elements when it comes to improving the productivity and growth of the business.

With a strong and efficient workforce clearly vital to a growing business, we asked respondents what their main challenges were when looking to attract new talent.  Lack of industry specific skills was the evident frontrunner, closely followed by geographical shortfalls and pressure to pay higher salaries.

The overall picture is positive, with sales turnover increasing for many businesses within the sector. However, with increases in sales, the need for an efficient and productive workforce is amplified. Whether improvements are made through enhancing skills of the current workforce, or adding to the existing team by attracting new talent into the business, it is key that businesses get it right if they want to prosper, but with lack of industry specific skills and good quality graduates and apprentices coming into the industry, coupled with increasing concerns over free movement of labour, is enough being done to support SMEs in overcoming these obstacles?

You can download your copy of the National Q4 2016-2017 Barometer report below:


* The Manufacturing Barometer is the largest independent survey of SME manufacturing companies operating in England and has been running since 2009. The survey takes input from a number of stakeholders but remains independent.  The Manufacturing Barometer is owned and operated by SWMAS Ltd

To take part in the next Manufacturing Barometer which is opening soon for responses please email [email protected]

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