Expanded manufacturing sales in 2014 and employment to September 2015 must be set against job losses to come in sector – situation remains fragile
NI Executive must prioritise investment for growth, delivering real jobs with decent wages
Jimmy Kelly, Ireland Secretary of Unite, welcomed figures showing growth in NI Manufacturing sales in 2014 and in employment in 2015 but warned that the recent announcement of job-losses in the sector threatened to wipe out any post-recession gains. He called for a proactive approach to growing the sector:
“Today’s figures are positive with employment across Northern Ireland continuing to grow with 3,850 Manufacturing jobs added in the year to September 2015 and sales in the sector growing by 1.7% to £18.1 billion.
“These statistics reinforce the vital role and place of our Manufacturing sector and support the case for a more hands-on approach to supporting producers.
“However the picture is not all rosy: these figures are for a period coming before more than 2,500 direct manufacturing jobs will be lost in sector. The scale of those losses, their high-value nature and the multiplier impact has the potential to wipe out any gains made since the 2008 recession.
“The rate of growth of manufacturing sales in 2014 declined sharply by 71% from the rate of 5.9% in 2013 and the destination of exports demonstrates that the sector is more reliant than ever on exports to the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland; without their growing demand we would have seen a contraction in 2014.
“The statistics demonstrate that Northern Ireland can still succeed in Manufacturing. They represent a direct challenge to Invest NI which has publicly stated that they are no longer proactively seeking foreign investment in the sector as they believe we don’t have competitive advantage. Instead we need to be proactively seeking investment for real jobs with decent wages, supporting our indigenous producers and strategically developing local supply chains to secure this vital sector into the future”, Mr Kelly concluded.