Scots engineering firms upbeat despite slowdown

Engineering orders in Scotland have eased back from the two-year high in September, but activity and optimism across the sector remain buoyant, a key report today reveals.
Bryan Buchan said recovery in engineering was continuing. Picture: ContributedBryan Buchan said recovery in engineering was continuing. Picture: Contributed
Bryan Buchan said recovery in engineering was continuing. Picture: Contributed

Despite tough trading conditions in some areas, Scottish Engineering’s latest quarterly review found continuing growth throughout the manufacturing sector. This in turn is fuelling confidence, with increasing levels of optimism in both large and small firms.

Bryan Buchan, chief executive of Scottish Engineering, said the figures showed that the recovery begun earlier this year was continuing. Output volumes were described as strong, and while order intake slowed, it remains “robust”.

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A total of 41 per cent of all companies surveyed reported increasing orders, while 29 per cent said orders decreased. The remainder reported no change, giving a balance of +12. This was half of the +24 reported in September, when engineering orders reached their highest level since the beginning of 2011.

Buchan said: “While we continue to see improvements on the whole, there are still areas where our member companies are finding that trading conditions are tough. Fabricators and metal manufacturers in particular are seeing order levels drop.”

Exports edged back into negative territory, but did not reach lows recorded in the first six months of this year. Only medium-sized companies – those with between 100 and 500 employees – reported an increase in sales abroad. UK orders, meanwhile, were in positive territory for the 15th consecutive quarter.

Buchan said he was encouraged by efforts to improve collaboration between industry and academia, highlighting the launch of the Strathclyde Engineering Academy as an important step forward in producing “industry-ready” graduates.

“Likewise, the efforts of the new Fife College is helping to provide bespoke, out-of-hours training for local employers,” he added. “We also welcome Glasgow Caledonian University to Scottish Engineering and look forward to continuing our successful working relationship.”

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