Turnover in the UK defence sector remains strong, increasing from £22.1bn in 2017 to £22.7bn in 2018; overall the sector has enjoyed turnover growth of 6% since 2010. The UK defence industry has proven itself to be a stable, innovative, and highly productive market; delivering world-class capabilities such as the world-leading Queen Elizabeth class carriers.
The UK continues to be the second largest defence exporter in the world, helping to deliver equipment and services not only to our own armed forces but to our allies and partners across the globe. In 2017 the UK received £9bn in export orders and held an estimated 13% market share in global defence exports; with platforms such as Typhoon continuing to be an important contributor. Looking ahead to the future of Combat Air, the UK will want to build from the success of Typhoon and create an internationally attractive capability with best in class technology and support.
In order to achieve this goal the sector will need to attract and retain new skills and talent. There are over 4,400 apprentices in companies of all sizes across Defence, this is a figure that continues to grow year on year. Defence companies offer a range of challenging opportunities in areas from electronics and mechanical engineering to astrophysics. At £35,000 pa. the average annual earnings within the sector are 18% higher than the national average. The opportunity to work on world-class projects with some of the most demanding engineering and digital challenges available today makes UK Defence a sector to aspire to join.
As the Dunne Review on prosperity demonstrated Defence (both Government and Industry) is present right across the UK; from industrial presence in major cities such as Bristol and Manchester to RAF bases in the remotest parts of the Highlands and Islands. Regional and national investment is an important factor in Defence’s contribution to national prosperity; the Defence Technology Exploitation Programme (DTEP) is a joint programme supported by Invest Northern Ireland and the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). DTEP will be worth an expected £1.2m in research and development investment to Northern Ireland.
A critical part of this future picture is the Defence Growth Partnership (DGP), an collaborative initiative between Government and Industry which looks to coordinate capability exploration between customer and supplier, as well as maximising the UK’s export potential. The DGP is also reaching into the supply chain to support companies with an ‘Improvement Framework’; an important feature of improving productivity and competitiveness for UK companies.