Thirty-two per cent of firms in the local manufacturing industry plan to invest in their business, according to the latest Middle Market Barometer carried out by PwC.

This represents an increase of five percentage points when compared to the PwC Barometer carried out in March 2015.

An analysis of the results indicate that these are more favourable when companies that employ less than 50 people are excluded from the survey. In fact, 73 per cent of manufacturers that employ over 50 people have immediate capital investment plans for the upcoming six months. Typically, such companies represent the manufacturers of electronic and chemical/pharmaceutical related products.

The barometer, carried out at the end of the first quarter of 2016, focused on a wide cross-section of local industry, and includes operators involved in the manufacturing of aluminium, pharmaceutical and chemical products, furniture, metals, glass and printers.

Recruitment plans also seem to be more upbeat when compared to 2015. Thirty-six per cent of manufacturers interviewed are planning to reinforce their workforce in the next six months, as compared to 27 per cent in 2015.

Job opportunities appear to be most forthcoming in the electronics sector, with 71 per cent of the opera­tors in this sector signifying willingness to recruit more staff.

Only 26 per cent of the participants feel that their respective view is valued in the formulation of policy that affects the manufacturing industry

Thirty-two per cent of those interviewed indicated competition as their top business concern, followed by the prices of raw material at 27 per cent, the skills required in the workforce at 25 per cent, and transport costs at 10 per cent.

In the 2015 market barometer, competition, at 26 per cent, also topped the list of concerns highlighted by industry, followed by debts and managing cash flows – which at that time ranked as the second top concern at 19 per cent. In the current barometer, only two per cent of respondents indicated this as one of their topmost concerns.

The results of the barometer include a focus by sub-industry and entities by the number of employees which show differences in concerns raised. Fifty-six per cent of manufacturers involved in chemicals and pharmaceuticals consider the prices of raw materials as their most acute concern. Forty-three per cent of the metal and glass concerns find most difficulty in recruiting skilled labour.

The printing and furniture industry emerge to be the most competi­tive markets, with 40 per cent and 39 per cent of the respective operators indicating competition as their top business concern.

The participants in the barometer were also asked about their experience of the EU and government support funding schemes.

Thirty-eight per cent of the participants in the barometer have had such experience. Eleven per cent indicated that they participated in the Micro Invest scheme while 10 per cent tapped EU funding.

The industries that had greater access to funding schemes emerge to be the ones involved in the production of pharmaceutical/chemi­cal products and electronics – typically the industries that employ the larger number of employees.

The role and involvement of busi­nesses in developing policies affecting their industry was also raised. Only 26 per cent of participants feel that their respective view is valued in the formulation of poli­cy that affects the manu­facturing industry. Once again, it is the pharmaceutical/chemical products and electronics industry, at 48 per cent and 57 per cent respectively, which appear to be most engaged with policy makers.

Kevin Valenzia, Territory Senior Partner at PwC, welcomed the results of barometer, which signals the industry’s determination to succeed in the global economy, which is changing local dynamics. He said: “The local manufacturing in­dustry continues to be a hub for employment while evolving its profile toward a more value-added trade, which is being driven by a skilled workforce’’.

The results of the market barome­ter – analysed by locality and sector, may be found on

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