Manufacturing organisations report increased confidence despite challenges

Rising costs, supply chain issues and access to labour are among the big challenges facing the sector in 2022, a survey found.
Manufacturing organisations report increased confidence despite challenges

By Cate McCurry, PA

There is an increase in confidence among manufacturing organisations, with around a third more upbeat about their business, a new survey shows.

Published by Ibec, the Manufacturing In Ireland – Today, Tomorrow and Beyond survey also revealed that 55 per cent of businesses reported the same level of confidence compared to six months ago.

The survey also reveals that increased costs, supply chain issues and access to labour are among the big challenges facing the sector in 2022.

Around one in 10 of those questioned were less confident now compared with six months ago.

 

Over 90 per cent expect to see increases in the costs of transport and raw materials in the next six months, while around a third expect their profitability to increase.

Three out of five of those surveyed expect investment in environmental sustainability to rise in the next half-year.

The study also found that major challenges are expected for organisations around the costs of energy, transportation and logistics, as well as attracting and retaining a quality workforce.

Cost and availability of raw materials will also create major challenges for manufacturing organisations in the next six months, it found.

Covid-related issues are expected to remain a challenge for over three-quarters of the respondents during the next six months.

Sharon Higgins, director of membership and sectors at business group Ibec, said “Our report shows the scale importance of the manufacturing sector in Ireland.

“Our member survey shows strong business confidence among manufacturers for the six months ahead, with expectations of increased profitability and growth in employment despite significant cost and supply chain pressures.

“This is shaping up to be a pivotal decade, not just for Ireland, but globally.

“As Cop26 gets under way this week and Government prepares to unveil its Climate Action Bill, sustainable manufacturing will be critical to Ireland’s ability to hit its climate targets.”

The survey was conducted in October among a broad range and size of manufacturing companies operating in pharma, chemicals, med-tech, food and drink, electronics and other sectors, both indigenous and multinational.

While respondents indicated that in the next six months they expect increases in the cost of energy, raw materials and wage growth, they also reported an expectation of increases in export sales, productivity and employment.

 

Challenges including managing Covid-related issues, hybrid working and dealing with carbon emissions did not score highly, while taxation was cited as a major challenge over the next six months by only 4 per cent of respondents.

“We know the country’s strength in manufacturing exports – 60 per cent of Ireland’s final manufacturing exports are now part of global supply chains, one of the highest such ratios in the world and a hugely significant level of our employment is sustained by this global demand,” Ms Higgins added.

“This comes from med-tech, technology, pharma and many other product lines.

“There are clear challenges ahead for manufacturing in Ireland, for example, this week alone, the focus of the entire world is on Cop26, seeking agreement on addressing climate change.

“We believe there is an urgent requirement for a national action plan to address competitiveness in manufacturing, and consolidate and grow our success on the world stage.”

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