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PROSPER MAGAZINE: DIGITAL EDITION

FEATURE

THE COVID-19 EFFECT ON UK BUSINESS CONFIDENCE

As the UK begins to rebuild its businesses and works toward rebuilding the economy, we ask has COVID-19 caused professionals to lack confidence?

The LinkedIn Workforce Research conducted a recent survey on how confident UK professionals are in each industry across three core areas:

Job security | Financial wellbeing | Career outlook

The manufacturing industry was slightly down in confidence as well as health care, showing that many professionals doubted their roles.

It was also reported that SME’s and mid-scale companies are the least worried as they expect to have a stable flow of business as they begin returning to work.

However, it is a well-known fact that the pandemic has hit all industries, some have adapted and some have fallen, but across the manufacturing industry, a pocket of businesses have met new business demands, keeping them afloat in the current situation.

The demand for healthcare supplies and PPE has meant that increased production has commenced in factories around the country, supporting many jobs.

The employment rate in the industry continues to fall and with reports of a suffering economy, the UK could see a further decrease in opportunity.

In a recent PWC report, 57% of manufacturers believe that attitude to growth is not affected by economic uncertainty, paired with 68% commenting that the situation is good for market growth when exporting.

Prosper spoke to ECMS, (Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills) partner and CEO of the Cast Metals Federation, Pam Murrell and asked her for an insider’s view of how Covid-19 has affected CMF members and how orders are ‘holding up’.

“The vast majority of the UK foundries are now back to being operational, with the necessary safe working practices in place”, Pam said, “Some had to stop for periods of time during March and April either due to the need to put the necessary measures in place or because of reduced demand from customers.

“For some, this reduced demand has continued into May and June, with significantly reduced operating levels persisting as a consequence. Others have been extremely busy because they supply sectors such as food manufacturing, freight transportation or medical, where there has been increased demand, continued Pam.

“The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been well received by our members, and many have taken advantage of the support being offered.

“We anticipate the use of the scheme continuing into the autumn months while some sectors, in particular automotive and aerospace, remain depressed. Some short time working and redundancies seem inevitable.

“However, whilst visibility into the third quarter remains low and there are certainly some real challenges ahead, several of our members report orders holding up ‘surprisingly well’.

Pam added, “With restrictions still looming and fears of a second wave, it’s vital for manufacturing businesses to re-evaluate their strategy and begin their contingency plan, strong enough to combat the after-effects of the crisis.”

West Midlands Foundry and Chamber Platinum Group member, Thomas Dudley commented on how the Foundry Division dealt with COVID-19, they told Prosper, “Thomas Dudley Foundry Division has been severely affected by the COVID pandemic.

“When the virus first started to take hold in the UK at the beginning of March we reviewed our working practices, implemented improved hygiene and social distancing within our operating divisions and offices and implemented policies to protect the pay of all our employees if they were to get the virus.

“We also did a review of our vulnerable employees and looked at whether they could work from home.

“When the furlough scheme was announced on 23rd March we took the opportunity to send a number of people home, but this was mainly office staff as we were considered an essential supplier to the water industry and we were making castings that ended up on the pumps and compressors used in the Nightingale hospitals.

“However with a 70% drop in our order book we were not able to continue at full capacity and in April started to work 1 week on 3 weeks off, although this was staggered to suit the process and customer demand. At times we had 70% of our workforce on furlough.

“We have broadly continued this through May and June and will continue to review our order book looking for signs of recovery. We have carried out risk assessments of the workplace and look forward to being back at full capacity as soon as possible”.

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