Despite the decline since the 1970s, when manufacturing contributed 25% of UK GDP, the UK is currently the ninth largest manufacturing nation in the world. Overall, the UK’s industrial sector has increased by 1.4% a year since 1948.
The Office for National Statistics attributes the sustained growth to a better quality; more skilled workforce; a shift in production from low to high productivity goods; improvements in automation and technology; increased investment in R&D, and a more integrated global economy.
UK manufacturing currently employs 2.7 million people, earning an average of £32,500. It contributes 11% of GVA, accounts for 45% of total exports – totalling £275bn. It represents 69% of business research and development (R&D) and provides 13% of business investment.
The value of UK manufacturers’ product sales was £380.7 billion in 2017, a 4.1% increase on the 2016 total of £365.7 billion. The Manufacturing of food products experienced the largest increase in sales between 2016 and 2017, at £4.2 billion (6.4%), to £69.9 billion. Manufacturing contributes £6.7 trillion to the global economy. If current growth trends continue, the UK will break into the top five by 2021.