Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA has hailed the contribution the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering sector has made to the local economy.
Speaking as the MATRIX Advanced Manufacturing, Materials and Engineering (AMME) report was launched, the Minister said: “There are over 2,000 companies in Advanced Manufacturing in Northern Ireland employing approximately 44,000 people. Advanced manufacturers in Northern Ireland accounted for sales of over £7 billion in 2014. These companies out-performed other sectors and regions in terms of innovation activity, investment in research and development and export intensity.
“It is also important to acknowledge the wider economic benefits of that activity – the spillover into the wider supply chain, the employment generated and the shared prosperity which this sector provides. As a small economy, we must be agile and innovative. We must build on those areas where we have a competitive advantage and inherent capabilities; where we have technologies and ideas that are or can be world-class.”
The report produced by MATRIX makes a series of recommendations in relation to skills and sectoral development. The Minister said: “AMME businesses need to become more visible – both in terms of its broad appeal as a desirable career choice and in terms of show-casing the contribution the highly innovative sector makes to the regional and national economies.
"Skills challenges aren’t unique to AMME, nor indeed to Northern Ireland. Concerns relating to quality and quantity of skills are universal across advanced manufacturing and other technology-rich sectors and economies around the world.
"Given the rapid rate of change manufacturing faces today, whether as a result of increasing levels of automation, customization, personalization, servitisation or re-manufacturing, it is almost inevitable that our skills base will face consistent and increasing pressures. Our response to these pressures should be both creative and robust – and always informed by industry.”