THE IMPORTANCE OF MANUFACTURING TO THE HUNTER
Manufacturing has a long history as a major driving force for the Hunter economy. The industry has transformed itself significantly in recent decades. The closure of the Steelworks was a major event, however, the real changes have been at a more fundamental level.
Local manufacturers long ago realised that they cannot compete at the low end and labour intensive areas of manufacturing.
We can, however, compete very successfully with innovative solutions and providing a level of service that cannot be provided by overseas competitors. So how concerned should we be about the health of our manufacturing sector? The truth is that manufacturing provides far
more economic contribution to the Hunter and Australia than most people realise. Consider these points:
• Direct employment – manufacturing is the second largest employer in the Hunter.
• Training – modern manufacturing is a high skills area and a major trainer of employees.
• Multiplier factor – manufacturing has one of the highest multiplier factors of any sector, estimated to be in the range of 3 to 5, meaning that the indirect benefits are huge.
• Balance of trade – the export of locally manufactured goods and allied services, as well as replacement of imports, makes major contributions to a healthier balance of trade for Australia.
• Innovation – the modern manufacturing sector is a major source of innovation. It also supports the development of new product concepts from other sectors of the economy.
• Support of other sectors – other sectors owe much of their strength to manufacturers and their expertise.