Belfast Telegraph

Manufacturers urge Stormont to adopt new 'industrial strategy' to boost sector

By John Mulgrew

Manufacturers are taking their case to Stormont to urge the Executive to create a dedicated strategy to boost the sector and tackle huge job losses.

Manufacturing NI and Unite are joining to launch a joint campaign calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to adopt an 'industrial strategy'.

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton has ruled out any form of dedicated manufacturing plan.

He told the Belfast Telegraph last month: "We have a strategy for the economy. It includes manufacturing. That's why manufacturing output rose by 2.4% in the last 12 months and we have the highest number employed in the sector since pre-downturn.”

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, said:

“Northern Ireland’s manufacturing sector employs more than 85,000 and contributes more than £18bn in sales – of which £14bn are external.

“An opportunity exists to do more, so it is vitally important that our politicians adopt an ambitious approach to create the conditions which will allow manufacturing to grow to 20% of the Northern Ireland economy creating jobs, increasing investment and quickly assisting the Executive to deliver a rebalanced economy which benefits the entire region.

“We need an industrial strategy to ensure that high-value added Manufacturing stays on the agenda – that there is real action to lower energy and transport costs, to win foreign direct investment in the sector.”

Unite regional secretary, Jimmy Kelly, said: “Northern Ireland has lost six thousand jobs in manufacturing over the past two years – these were among the best paid jobs in the region and will not be easily replaced by jobs of an equivalent value.”

Earlier this year, a report warned that more than 6,000 jobs could be lost across Northern Ireland's manufacturing sector over the next decade as companies become more efficient and increase their use of technology.

But the study, carried out by Manufacturing NI and Oxford Economics, predicted the industry itself would grow in size, despite headcount falling.

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