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New report reveals thousands of transport manufacturing jobs at risk from a hard Brexit

UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 03 FEBRUARY 2020
New report reveals thousands of transport manufacturing jobs at risk from a hard Brexit

A major new report reveals that thousands of automotive, rail and aerospace jobs across the country are at risk as a result of the UK's exit from the European Union.

Academic researchers and industry experts at Birmingham City University's Centre for Brexit Studies have issued the warning along with recommendations to transport manufacturing industries and their supply chains.

The new study, suggests the auto, rail and aerospace supply chains in the West Midlands are 'increasingly fragile'; given the exposure to logistics dependency on the Channel Tunnel and ports in the South-East of the UK.

Surveying over 200 firms in the region in late 2019, the research, funded by West Midlands Combined Authority, finds that according to the sample, transport manufacturers and suppliers in the Midlands:

  • are particularly exposed to the operations of Jaguar Land Rover, given its dominance in the region
  • have significant exposure to other manufacturers, including Honda - who have already announced their intention to close down their Swindon plant by 2022
  • have a high dependency on EU workers, with EU nationals accounting for an average 31% of the workforce
  • have a high dependency on the Channel Tunnel, with 17% of exporters and 14% of importers exclusively using the Chunnel
  • have a high use on the ports of Liverpool, Southampton, Immingham and Felixstowe, placing additional pressure on regional transport networks in the event of a ‘hard Brexit’

Key aspects examined include: value of automotive businesses in the West Midlands split by vehicle company clients and local authorities; divisions between tiers one and two, and logistics and suppliers, employment mix (UK/EU), major challenges faced by supply chain e.g. transport infrastructure and paperwork; import/export ratios, transport route dependency, and 'Brexit readiness'.

Carmageddon? , a new compact format book which draws together contributors from academia, policy and practice and links analysis of the likely impact of Brexit to wider global trends affecting the sector, was launched alongside the research in Birmingham on Wednesday 29 January.

Former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Visiting Professor at the Centre for Brexit Studies, Sir Vince Cable commented, "The auto industry in the UK pre-2016 was a remarkable success story with high levels of investment and output growth, with its success underpinned by a number of key factors. This now seems like a distant dream, with UK Government spokespersons already talking about automobiles being a declining industry."

Transport manufacturing industries continue to be of vital importance to the UK economy. In 2018, UK auto alone was directly worth £16.9bn to the economy and represented over 9% of total UK manufacturing.

However, the decision to exit the EU and pull out of the Single Market in effect by the end of this year has generated uncertainly and anxiety for UK-based manufacturers.

Professor Alex de Ruyter, Director of the Centre for Brexit Studies and co-author of the report said, "If even a small proportion of traffic from the Channel Tunnel gets rerouted, it will cause an increase in port traffic elsewhere, placing additional strains on an underfunded regional rail and road network."

The findings of the research were launched alongside  , at Birmingham City University's STEAMhouse Birmingham on Wednesday 29 January 2020.

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