The unusually strong performance of British fencing industry in the light of Brexit


The recent report by the Association of Fencing Industries (AFI) about the current situation with the fencing industry in Great Britain shows unexpected and rather reassuring findings.

In this tumultuous period marked primarily with growing uncertainties in the light of Brexit most industries slow down and look at the future with a certain degree of apprehension.

Not so with the fencing industry – the current value of the industry has been calculated to be worth more than £1.1 billion (divided more or less equally between the materials and installation sectors), and shows no signs of losing its momentum.

Employment situation

According to the report, more than 60,000 people in the United Kingdom are employed in the installation sector alone, with metal railings suppliers constituting a significant portion of it. Unlike many other industries, the fencing sector doesn’t show any indications of laying off the existing workforce.

Not only this, but it shows some noticeable growth, requiring no less than 1000 new employees every year to meet the requirements of fencing companies.

Taking into account how much people employed in the manufacturing sector are uncertain about their long-term job prospects in the light of Brexit and declining condition of British industry in general (the country’s manufacturing output recently slipped to the ninth position globally, behind France) this is incredibly good news for everyone working in the fencing industry.

It is also a good tip for those looking for future employment opportunities – in the years to come to the need for new professionally trained employees is only going to increase in this sector, and now seems like a good time to undergo some relevant training.

Training opportunities

However, in future, this may present a problem because not all interested parties show sufficient support for the training programs that would be beneficial for the industry as a whole. Although the fencing industry can be potentially a very good career choice for young people, it is still not very popular, and current growth can bump up against the lack of skilled labor in a few years. Some companies operating in the sector, along with the Association of Fencing Industries in general, see this as a problem that needs a solution and try to work it out in cooperation with educational institutions.

Young people should have an opportunity to both receive the training necessary to join the industry and to find out about the potential the work in fencing industry opens up in front of them both from educational institutions and members of the Association directly.

Industry composition

According to the report, over one-half of all businesses working in the fencing sector are smaller local enterprises, not large companies. It is both fortunate and unfortunate at the same time. The good thing about it is that it brings diversity and stronger competition into the industry as well as shows a healthy share of local operations when compared to country-spanning organisations.

The not-so-good aspect of it is that these smaller businesses often tend to keep to themselves and are reluctant to join the AFI and work alongside each other for the benefit of the industry as a whole. Currently, an essential part of AFI’s work is to try and bring them into the fold so that they can fully play their role in the development and evolution of the fencing industry.

AFI’s Future

Currently, AFI has a limited influence on what happens within the industry and is not truly representative of the fencing sector as a whole, as a considerable share of companies working in it don’t recognize its leadership position.

The report prepared by AFI is one of the first steps towards securing such a status – its leadership believes that fencing industry has a great future in the United Kingdom, and to ensure it, the sector needs a unified organization that can bring together all its different subdivisions.

As the report shows the fencing industry as a shining beacon of light amidst the dark waters of Brexit, right now the organisation has a good chance of demonstrating the importance and reliability of the industry for the entire British economy.

It is also quite likely that the attention attracted by the report will motivate more businesses to join the AFI in order to influence its policies in the future, which will lead to greater representation of smaller operations.

However, both the industry as a whole and the Association of Fencing Industries still have a long way to go before they gain their rightful places in the economy. Although AFI saw a certain increase in membership recently, there are many companies out there that are yet to become its members, which means that the Association has a lot of work to do in future to get its message through to the people playing important roles in the fencing market.