Signs of hope for British manufacturing after coronavirus
There was no shortage of damage inflicted because of the coronavirus pandemic. While it was the public’s physical health that was given top priority, the fallout of COVID-19 impacted many different aspects of life in Britain around the world, including how we socialise, our mental wellbeing, and, of course, the economy. Indeed, it was this last aspect that prompted many people to fear the return of a recession. The good news is that the hit to the economy was a result of an unusual circumstance, rather than a fundamental weakness in the system. As such, there are hopes that it’ll bounce back relatively quickly.
But that’s not to say that there has been no damage. There, especially in certain sectors. British manufacturing was hit particularly hard, since factories had to effectively shut down for the duration of the lockdown. During the height of the pandemic, things slowed down to a level not seen since the second world war.
This naturally prompted fears that British manufacturing would experience a terminal decline. But there’s new evidence to suggest that things are beginning to return to normal, or, at least, that the worst has passed. While still far from the levels of output factories were achieving before coronavirus, the decline has at least slowed down. It’s anticipated that with the positive signs being shown by other industries, manufacturing will begin to step up again.
Not that manufacturing should always be following the lead of other industries. Some experts argue that manufacturing should not just be given a boost by the government, but that it should be the main powerhouse behind the post-coronavirus economic recovery. After all, if the gravity roller conveyor is rolling in the factory, then the British economy benefits. Indeed, it was manufacturing that kept the UK going during the lockdown, with many manufacturers of essential supplies stepping up to do their part. Some factories stopped producing their normal products, and instead made goods that would be beneficial during the pandemic.
Will manufacturing be the poster child for economic recovery? It remains to be seen. Much of it will depend on the initiative shown by the government. Some governments have treated manufacturing as a secondary concern, but during the lockdown, we’ve seen that it’s not just another economic aspect to consider: it is, in many ways, the beating heart of UK working life. It’s going to take some time until British manufacturing can truly get back on its feet and reach the levels set by the pre-coronavirus climate. It’s also highly likely that the path to good fortune won’t be linear; it’ll be a trial and error approach, as businesses try to figure out the best ways to work that are also in line with “the new normal.”
And then there’s the distant threat of a second wave. Then, at least, British manufacturing will be in a stronger position to weather the storm. They were caught blindsided by the first wave, just like everyone else, yet they’ve already shown that the worst has passed.