Engineering industry 'healthiest' for years

Image caption, Scottish Engineering say there is little evidence of banks lending to firms

Latest figures have shown that engineering firms are at their healthiest for almost three years.

The industry body, Scottish Engineering, said that orders, output and staff numbers were all up in the past three months.

Orders were at their highest level since September 2007 with exports at their best for more than two years.

However, electronics firms continued to have few plans to make major investments.

Dr Peter Hughes, chief executive of Scottish Engineering, said: "Despite assurances to the contrary there continues to be very little evidence of banks making money available for our manufacturing engineering sector."

Scottish Engineering reviews how well companies in its sector are doing every three months.

The results from its latest poll are the most positive for some time and it said that levels of optimism had "increased substantially".

Latest data on the value of Scotland's manufactured exports have shown they amounted to £14.6bn over 10 years with Scottish engineering exports accounting for £8bn of that.

Dr Hughes said the failure of the financial sector had "resulted in most if not all politicians suddenly discovering that manufacturing is important and plays a vital role in our national economy".

He said that more had to be done to encourage young people to opt for a career in engineering and although there were many different routes into the industry, those who opted not to go to university should not be stigmatised.

Dr Hughes added: "When the option of Modern Apprenticeships is raised, there are those who tend to turn up their noses because they do not appreciate that we have moved on from the dark old days."

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