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Signs of improvement

Factories expecting fewer job cuts as confidence grows

women female engineeer (Institute of Engineering and Technology)

Industry is seeing signs of improvement

Scottish Engineering, the trade group for the country’s industrial companies, said expectations of job losses had slowed amid “tentative signs of improvement”.

Companies planning further redundancies has fallen from 60% in the previous quarter to 21% with 15% unsure based on lack of forecast clarity.

This provided some optimism for 2021, although concern remains that the hardest hit sectors in the sector will see slower recovery as their demand recovery lags.
Key attention points such as orders, output and exports show “considerable” improvement from an average -43% to an average -4%.

Confidence overall has improved significantly from –40% to -9%.

“With an expectation of a rolling vaccination programme arriving for vulnerable groups as early as spring, we remain optimistic that 2021 will show an upward curve of more normal operations with crucial benefits for business,” said the organisation in its latest update.

“However, even when economic demand generally returns, it will likely be uneven for many in our industry, with significant concerns for Aerospace and Oil & Gas demand recovery.”

Members also remain concerned about Brexit and that even with a “best of a bad bunch” deal scenario, SE says there will still be significant changes to almost every aspect of the way companies do business with Europe.
Scottish Engineering’s chief executive Paul Sheerin commented: “It would be easy to look at this report and highlight the positive aspects, as they are certainly there and we are all keen to find them at the end of a difficult year.

Paul Sheerin

Paul Sheerin: ‘difficult year’ (pic: Terry Murden)

“Caution remains however, particularly for those areas where recovery looks further away, in sectors where the competition is truly global.

“The winter economic support package from the UK government is genuinely welcomed, but come spring we need to ask whether we want to retain the strength we have in these sectors, and act to provide sector specific support to enable their survival.

“Other countries are doing so already, so if we want to retain our current capability, a preservation plan is needed, clear and visible long before the current support ends.”

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