Scottish engineering sector in rude health but cost pressures stack up

Scotland’s engineering sector has seen its recovery gain traction amid a “stabilising pandemic position”.

Releasing its first review of the new year, industry organisation Scottish Engineering said the positive demand it had “cautiously” tracked through 2021 appeared to not only be holding but in many cases strengthening.

Order intake, output, exports and staffing are said to have remained “strongly positive” for four quarters in a row, with optimism up more than half in the last three months.

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However, industry leaders warned of continuing pressure on a range of costs, reflected in the “stubbornly high impact on export and UK pricing”.

Scottish Engineering chief executive Paul Sheerin. Picture: Guy Hinks

Looking to the next three months, the review’s forecasts are generally upbeat, as the sector adapts to a new technology revolution.

It added: “For potential to become orders, however, we still have a lot to do to ensure that the correct investment in skills, capabilities and infrastructure can be delivered through joined-up thinking across all levels of industry, government and education at the pace required.”

Scottish Engineering’s chief executive, Paul Sheerin, said: “This further improving outlook is a fair and welcome reward for the resilience shown and difficult decisions taken by companies to ensure that business was sustained and protected during the pandemic.

“It’s especially encouraging to see a strong return to future forward-thinking, with the intent shown to step up training investment probably my pick of the good news given its importance to our ability to manufacture our own future.”

The body’s final quarterly review of 2021 had pointed to order intake, output volume and exports at their most positive levels since 2018.

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