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UK Automotive Tops EU for Labour Productivity According to Industry Report

Britain has been at the forefront of automotive production since the early days of the industry’s development. And today that legacy lives on, with a report by the Automotive Council naming the UK workforce as one of the world’s most productive.

To facilitate the process the Automotive Council identified eight Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) particularly influential to investment decisions, including labour cost; productivity and flexibility; availability of skills and engineers; university-industry collaboration; government investment in R&D; and R&D tax relief.

The resulting report, which was developed over 18 months, ranks the UK’s strengths and attractiveness for automotive investment against other European and global countries and places the UK's automotive ‎productivity in pole position in Europe.

This strong performance recognises the continual improvement in the industry as well as a move towards more efficient processes post 2007 global financial crisis. What is also interesting is the shift in gears towards investment in the manufacture of premium vehicles.

Also identified as a key success factor was the collaboration between industry and academic bodies which the report highlights as being essential in driving excellence, research and innovation. Labour flexibility was referenced as another area where the UK outperforms the market. Providing flexible working patterns and managing labour demands is recognised as being key in this just-in-time industry.

Tony Walker, Chair of the Automotive Council’s Business Environment and Skills Group, and Deputy Managing Director, Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK, said, “It is great to see further evidence of Britain’s strengths in its world-class automotive manufacturing workforce – and while there are clear areas for improvement, this report provides the basis for these to be addressed in the coming months and years.

“A competitive business environment to attract inward investment is vital to the success of any industry. This report demonstrates the importance of the Automotive Council as a joint means for government and industry to identify where work is needed to boost the UK automotive sector’s international competitiveness and to target investment accordingly.”

But while the UK receives strong marks in these fields, the report concludes that it fares less well in other areas such as availability of engineers. It also scores below competitor countries for skills, hourly labour rate, and R&D tax relief for larger companies.

By Tracey McBain