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Yorkshire and Humber Play Key Role for UK Manufacturers as Digital Technology Grows

10 Jan 2017

10 November 2016

Jonathan Oxley, chairman, Institute of Directors in Yorkshire and the Humber

As the digital technology sector experiences rapid growth, Yorkshire and the Humber will play a key role in driving efficiency and productivity for UK manufacturers.

Digital services include creative media, cyber security, telecoms, fintech, medtech and data analytics.

The government estimates that the global digital services market will be worth as much as the entire UK economy by 2020 and plans to spend £30m a year over four years to support innovative digital business projects.

A Digital Services Bill is working its way through Parliament which aims to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place.

The UK's digital economy is the largest amongst G-20 countries as a proportion of GDP and is expected to account for more than 12 per cent of UK GDP in 2016.

Yorkshire and the Humber is at the forefront of the digital industries with the Leeds city region alone producing more than 15,000 graduates in STEM subjects. It is home to thousands of digital technology companies, as well as Sky Bet, NHS Digital and the only Digital Health Enterprise Zone in the North.

However, we should not forget that Britain has a great manufacturing and engineering heritage and it is a mistake to assume that this is fading into irrelevance when compared with our massive service sector and the fast growing digital tech sector.

The effect of innovation and development in technology, including digital technology, is that manufacturing can become more advanced and more efficient.

That efficiency (together with other factors including cyclical following winds such as the currently low exchange rate on sterling helping our exports) means that Britain is and will continue to be a major manufacturing country.

It is estimated that, due to technology and other factors,  manufacturing productivity as measured by output per hour has grown three times faster in manufacturing than the whole economy over the last decade.

According to EEF's latest figures, the manufacturing sector employs 2.7 million people, accounts for 10 per cent of the UK GVA ("gross value added") and around half of our exports.

Britain is the ninth largest manufacturer in the world and about a quarter of factory output is exported. The US and Germany are, by some distance, our main markets followed by the Republic of Ireland, China and a number of other European countries. We also have a big domestic marketplace.

Across the UK the biggest areas of manufacturing are food and drink, transport equipment, aerospace and defence, chemicals and electronics.

Here in Yorkshire and the Humber we produce £16.2bn of manufacturing output (16 per cent of UK total output) with around 285,000 people (around 10.5 per cent of the total workforce) engaged in manufacturing.

Our region is developing specialist hubs and clusters such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield which provides world-class research services for companies such as Boeing, Airbus, Rolls Royce and BAE Systems as well as supporting local businesses.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which will see ever increasing integration of methods of production with digital and other technologies to increase productivity, is underway. 

Because the connectivity provided by digital technology is going to drive that revolution and the processes of manufacturing in the future, we can be confident that our strength in digital innovation will drive the success of our manufacturing industries into the 2020s and beyond.


Media enquiries 

Cicada Communications - 01423 567 111 or email Richard or Clare. 

Richard Abbott

Clare Walker

Notes to editors

• The Institute of Directors (IoD) was founded in 1903 and obtained a Royal Charter in 1906. The IoD is a non-party political organisation with approximately 35,000 members in the United Kingdom and overseas. Membership includes directors from right across the business spectrum – from media to manufacturing, professional services to the public and voluntary sectors. Members include CEOs of large corporations as well as entrepreneurial directors of start-up companies. 
• The IoD provides an effective voice to represent the interests of its members to key opinion-formers at the highest levels. These include Government ministers and their shadows, parliamentary committee members, senior civil servants and think-tanks. IoD policies and views are actively promoted to the national, regional and trade media. Follow us on Twitter to get the IoD’s reaction on business and public policy issues. 
• The IoD offers a wide range of business services which include business centre facilities, with 15 UK centres (including three in London, Reading, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Nottingham, Norwich, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast) and one in Paris, conferences, networking events, virtual offices, issues-led guides and literature, as well as free access to business information and advisory services. The IoD places great emphasis on director development and has established a certified qualification for directors – Chartered Director – as well as running specific board and director-level training and individual career mentoring programmes.

Contact IoD Yorkshire

For any membership enquiries please contact branch manager Helena Drake

0113 539 8781

See all our contacts here.

IoD Yorkshire & North East
Old Broadcasting House
Woodhouse Lane

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