Appetite for excellence still dominates UK manufacturing
Yorkshire-based Red Diamond Executive Headhunters, which helps to place candidates in roles senior level roles across the globe, has experienced a surge in manufacturing roles in recent months.
Bdaily spoke to Emma Robinson, the founder and managing director, to find out why she feels that despite the current climate, the appetite for excellence still dominates UK manufacturing.
The British manufacturing industry faced a number of significant challenges way before the current coronavirus crisis struck. Uncertainty around Brexit had adverse effect in many areas while the 2007 credit crunch brought a significant loss in confidence among banks and other lenders. Meanwhile, overseas competitors offered cheaper alternatives to British-made goods, leaving many UK manufacturers in a precarious position.
But while confidence in the manufacturing sector was depleted, the capability – and appetite for success – are still very much evident in the UK.
Quality is at the very heart of the British manufacturing industry. Britain has, and always will be, associated with excellence in both design and production. While it has not always necessarily been the cheapest option, we are now likely to see a backlash against cheap overseas alternatives – certainly in China but, as a result of Brexit, elsewhere as well.
We have seen that seeking a cheaper alternative in the Far East is not always the best long-term solution.
Becoming more self-reliant can only contribute to a stronger UK economy and would have helped alleviate recent scenes when shelves were emptied of cheap paracetamol manufactured abroad. Home produced products would have been far easier to replace swiftly.
Not only that, in the UK we have a huge amount of expertise in key sectors. We lead the way in food production, building materials and textiles to name but a few. That’s not to say that areas don’t exist where we could do better. There are lessons to be learned from our overseas competitors in areas such as innovation, supply chain management and automation. Bringing in talent from overseas to teach us how to innovate in other sectors could be an option, to enable us to learn from other nations and encouraging back lost talent.
What impact will the coronavirus pandemic have?
The coronavirus crisis, hot on the heels of Brexit, will be a massive turning point for the UK economy. Becoming more self-sufficient as a nation must now be top of the Government agenda once we are on the other side of this pandemic.
On a global scale, everyone is going to need a post coronavirus plan – the business world will simply not be the same. The difference between this and Brexit is that we had time to plan for the latter; this epidemic has hit everyone quicker than could have been predicted.
The good news is that we are now all used to planning and working out a worst-case scenario platform. Being reactive and executing a robust plan will be vitally important. One thing that has been both endearing and encouraging is to witness communities coming together over the past few weeks – and this includes the business community, where firms have come together to forge solutions to problems that may otherwise have appeared unsurmountable.
I speak to many business leaders who are now seriously considering historical actions and the repercussions of sending manufacturing overseas. A once opportune, cheaper, quicker way of working post-Brexit may now prove to be an expensive, poor quality, logistical and administrative nightmare.
What advice would you give to a business looking to begin or strengthen its UK manufacturing capabilities?
Invest in talent – strong leadership is the key to all business success. Businesses fail under poor leadership. Having the right leadership team in place is incredibly important, these are uncertain times and we all need a leader who is capable of rebuilding and creating new revenue growth streams.