In today’s challenging and uncertain economic times, it is perhaps easy to think that the Island’s economy, famously underpinned by financial services, will ebb and flow with the global tide, dictated by the world’s financial markets. The manufacturing sector however, is continuing to provide a solid foundation for growth, building on the Island’s long established track-record of creating products and services which are world class.
Manufacturing businesses in the Isle of Man support the global supply chain and export high quality products and services which are fundamental to many household names and industry blue chip companies. Our distinguished list of customers includes aerospace giants like Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems, Oil and Gas magnates such as Esso and BP as well as niche clients like NASA and Jaguar-Landrover.
The Island also manufactures and exports award winning food and drink produce, much of it from ingredients locally grown and/or sustainably fished. Such delicious produce can be found on the menus of some of the finest restaurants and hotels and on leading supermarket shelves right across the world.
The important fact here, however, is that our manufacturing sector growth is creating many excellent new job prospects in a wide range of disciplines. For example;
- GE Aviation, Swagelok and Element6 Ltd are currently creating up to 50 new technical jobs;
- The Aerospace Apprentice programme for September 2011 is expected to be oversubscribed. An advertisement to attract 6 apprentices (from a total of 11 required across the whole sector) has already been circulated by Ronaldsway Aircraft Company;
- Around 50 new jobs were created in our fish processing sector in 2010 and opportunities exist to increase this figure by a similar amount in 2011;
- Further known expansion opportunities for some of our other high value manufacturing businesses are in the pipeline;
- The Department’s Small Business Start-Up Scheme has assisted seven entrepreneurs to set up their own successful manufacturing-based businesses in the last year.
The area of manufacturing with the greatest growth potential is undoubtedly our aerospace engineering sector. The progress being made in this sector is a clear indication that the close working relationship between Government and the sector, particularly with regard to strategy development, is beginning to deliver really positive results.
The Isle of Man Aerospace Cluster (IOMAC) established by DED in 2006 (which includes 17 local aerospace and hi-tech companies) is the driving force for the development of targeted initiatives designed to raise standards and build relationships with the key industry primes such as Rolls Royce and BAE Systems. This is helping to ensure the sustainability of the sector by helping local businesses to secure long term projects on growth programmes. As a result, the employment figures for the cluster members alone, show growth of 24% over the last 5 years.
The Minister for Economic Development, Hon Allan Bell MHK said:
‘The manufacturing sector is a vital part of the diversification needed for our economy to be successful in the future. The Department has been working very hard with the sector for a number of years now and I am delighted to see the progress being made. I have witnessed at first hand the activities of a number of leading businesses in the sector and have constantly been impressed by the extent of new technology being used and the range of skills needed. The number of new jobs being created with the opportunity of more to come is really welcome.’
Political Member for the Department of Economic Development, Alex Downie, OBE, MLC, has recently taken on the responsibility for Manufacturing from Clare Christian MLC, who has now been elected to President of Tynwald. He said:
‘The sector still needs to attract more young people and to get them to consider a career in manufacturing so, through the Awareness of Careers in Engineering (ACE) programme started four years ago, the Department, in partnership with the sector, has been educating pupils, students, teachers and parents regarding the extensive range of job prospects available in manufacturing. I am pleased to say that these face-to-face practical class lessons now reach over 3,700 of the Island’s school students every year.’