11,000 workers in Shropshire under threat from steel crisis …
The collapse of Britain s steel industry could impact on as many as 11,000 workers in Shropshire, a leading economist has said.
The shock waves from the growing steel crisis are set to spread throughout the manufacturing sector – and with manufacturing dwarfing agriculture in the county s economic output, that could have a serious impact on Shropshire.
Paul Forrest, head of research at the West Midlands Economic Forum, said 13,000 jobs at 620 companies around the Marches would be affected by the crisis, adding that only around 2,000 of those are in Herefordshire, with the remainder in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
Around 470 people at five companies across the region are employed in metal production, and 4,000 work in fabrication and moulding.
Another 3,600 people in 120 companies work on producing machinery, 3,800 people at 25 firms work on motor vehicle production, and 1,200 are employed in other transport sectors.
All of those depend on a supply of high quality materials, and while their roles are not under immediate threat, the collapse of Caparo and other steel producers will impact on their ability to produce goods.
It s a fairly sizeable hit on the labour market, said Mr Forrest, who was guest speaker at a business networking event in Oswestry.
None are under immediate threat, but if the quality of steel goes down and the cost goes up it s going to be much more difficult to produce precision components.
What policy makers don t seem to understand is that you need high quality steel going into these companies, whether it s for ball bearings or cabinets.
If you start eroding the entire steel production capacity of the UK in the next two or three years it s going to be very difficult to continue production.
Across the UK s manufacturing heartland of the Midlands there are 12,500 companies, employing 260,000 people, that are in some way, dependent on steel, according to data from the West Midlands Economic Forum.
Mr Forrest added: What you re going to find in Shropshire including Telford is that you have advanced manufacturing, and if they don t have the resources to produce high-quality components they are going to have a big problem.
Manufacturing comprises around 20 per cent of Telford s economic output, the most recent figures for the borough s gross value added show, while in Shropshire that figure is 12.3 per cent.
Jaguar Land Rover has increasingly been looking for local suppliers for components, and a shortage of high-quality steel could compromise those plans.
Meanwhile Stephen Cooper, the head of manufacturing at one of the UK s biggest accountancy firms, KPMG, warned: This is not only a crisis for the metals industry but a crisis that goes to the very heart of the UK s industrial manufacturing.
The negative knock on effects of this crisis for the UK economy cannot be underestimated.
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