One of the few manufacturing industries where the UK remains dominant is aerospace, second in the world only to the US. Last year the industry generated £22.2 billion in sales, up by more than 5 per cent on the year before. Its 2,600 manufacturers and small businesses employ about 100,000 people.
The UK seems to have cornered the market in specialist engineering skills and the manufacture of components, meaning the country occupies a unique place in the aerospace supply chain.
And the demands on the industry as a whole are only going to grow further post-recession, if the news coming out of this year’s Farnborough International Airshow
is anything to go by: by this morning deals worth a total of $30 billion (£19.6 billion) had already been signed, including Emirates’
$9.1 billion contract with Boeing for 30 jumbo jets. Boeing’s new “lean and green” Dreamliner
, two and a half years late but fabulously named, touched down at Farnborough on Sunday, with airlines queuing to put in their orders.
The aerospace industry is in fact concerned the skills of the workforce won’t keep up with the speed of growth, according to the Telegraph
. UK manufacturers are, however, being proactive, training up the new generation of aerospace specialists through apprenticeships and funded university places.
Is there a lesson for procurement and supply chain here, not only in the aerospace industry but more generally? The profession needs concerted investment to keep up with and to anticipate changes in demand – not just financially but in terms of training and mentoring. Does your organisation recognise this? What are you doing to make sure the next generation of buyers are ready for whatever the future holds?