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Engineering in Scotland grows but there is still a skills shortage

Scotland's engineering sector has recorded a fifth consecutive quarter of rising order intake, output volumes and employment, buoyed by a strong export performance in the latest three months, a survey shows.

However, Scottish Engineering chief executive Bryan Buchan highlighted continuing skills shortages as the industry body published the survey. He warned the pound’s weakness was causing companies to lose staff from other European Union countries, who were choosing to move elsewhere.

Mr Buchan said: “The issue there is craftspeople who have come across from Eastern Europe who are looking at what they can earn in euros in Germany [compared with] what they can earn here - it suddenly becomes a less attractive proposition to work in the UK.”

He also highlighted upward pressure on Scottish engineering companies’ raw material prices arising from sterling weakness, which makes imports more expensive. And he flagged continuing tough trading conditions for engineering companies exposed to the oil and gas sector.

However, overall, Mr Buchan said he was “pleasantly surprised at what I have seen come through this quarter”.

Scottish Engineering’s survey shows that, subtracting the proportion reporting a fall from that posting a rise, a balance of 26 per cent of companies in the sector achieved an increase in order intake in the latest three months. This signalled a similar pace of increase in order intake to the preceding three months, in which a net 27 per cent reported a rise.

A net 28 per cent of engineering companies north of the Border posted a rise in export orders in the latest three months. This signalled a sharp acceleration in export order growth, with a balance of 14 per cent of companies in the sector having posted an increase in the previous quarterly survey.

Mr Buchan said: “Order intake is looking good.”

Meanwhile, a balance of 25 per cent of Scottish engineering companies reported a rise in output volumes in the latest survey. This indicated an acceleration of the pace of production growth from the previous three months, in which a net 17 per cent of respondents achieved a rise in output volumes.

Source: Ian McConnell, Herald Scotland, 1st December 2017


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