Scottish engineers upbeat after 'most brutal of recent economic downturns' but Brexit woes drag

Scotland’s engineering sector has seen a recovery in orders since the depths of the pandemic but “persistent headwinds” could thwart further progress.

Releasing its final quarterly review of 2021, Scottish Engineering said the findings pointed to order intake, output volume and exports at their most positive levels since 2018.

Industry leaders said the optimism came from a sector that has survived “remarkably intact” after the “most brutal of recent economic downturns”.

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Scottish Engineering’s chief executive, Paul Sheerin, said: “One year ago when the path of the pandemic was less clear, manufacturers would have bitten your hand off for the recovery of demand which has continued for three successive quarters now.

Releasing its final quarterly review of 2021, Scottish Engineering said the findings pointed to order intake, output volume and exports at their most positive levels since 2018.
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“But it's tempered by persistent headwinds in material and logistics costs and availability, with little sign of improvement to bring some optimism, so it’s no surprise that our average of responses forecast this situation will remain until the second half of 2022.

“As ever, companies will take actions to remain resilient in the meantime, and for the skills and resource shortages, the significant increase in plans for training investment reflects how seriously industry takes this despite the wider uncertainty they face.”

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The industry organisation noted: “Staffing intent remains positive and within a few points of last quarter, and once again we listen to member feedback of the challenge of actually filling the vacancies where they seek to hire additional roles.

“More than ever, this has proven difficult as all resources become increasingly scarce, and the impacts of Brexit - still far from done - are evident in staffing, logistics and concern that import checks scheduled for the new year may bring further headaches.”

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