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In response to the current Brexit uncertainty, Ulster University have partnered with Manufacturing NI to provide a suite of online supply chain management Brexit resources. Funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, these online resources aim to provide NI manufacturers with the latest Brexit knowledge and a set of practical techniques on how to manage their supply chains under the current uncertain climate.

Training will focus on a range of key supply chain areas, such as Getting to Know your Supply Chain, Impact of Brexit on Key Supply Chain Processes, Supply Chain Management Risk management, Contract Management, Sourcing, Culture and Supplier Relationships.

The impacts intended are mitigating the exposure of risk across each of the key supply chain areas for businesses in a hard Brexit through upskilling and the online portal will also facilitate knowledge transfer and open source innovation.

Professor Ronan McIvor, Ulster University Business School said, “This Brexit training and content delivery aims to build on recently commissioned reports investigating the significant impact that supply chain management has throughout the Island of Ireland”

For example, the ‘Cross-border Trade and Supply Chain Linkages (2017)’ report highlighted that over two-thirds of NI cross-border trade involves supply-chain activity, at a value of almost £4 billion annually. In addition, 'A Review of SME Cross Border Supply Chain Management Supports on the of Island of Ireland (2019)’, was led by Ulster University Business School academic Dr Trevor Cadden and Professor Ronan McIvor for Intertrade Ireland and highlights the lack of supply chain capabilities and supports for businesses in NI. In this study, over 300 cross Border SME’s were surveyed, supported by a further 20 in depth case studies.

The study highlighted the severe lack of knowledge, capabilities and skills in supply chain management. For example, 61% of SMEs do not have any form of digital IT links with their suppliers, 51% do not communicate regularly with their suppliers to discuss requirements, 52% do not trust their customers, and over half 51% do not have an efficient supply chain, and 45% do not measure or know how to measure supply chain performance.

A major marketing and advertising campaign have been launched to signpost manufacturing businesses to this new suite of Brexit supply chain resources hosting all the relevant information they need to prepare for Brexit which can visit at Information on everything from workforce issues and importing and exporting goods, to UK and EU regulations and supply chain issues is included. The sectoral guides reflect the layout of the Northern Irish manufacturing sector and include information for companies working across a range of key sectors.

Mary Meehan from Manufacturing NI said:

“Leaving the EU, deal or no-deal, will have a massive impact on our local manufacturing industry. Firms here need to be confident that they are prepared for every eventuality which may crop up. This campaign with Ulster University will ensure manufacturers have all the information they need to mitigate against the impacts of Brexit and to help keep their businesses running as smoothly as possible.

The manufacturing sector is the bedrock of the Northern Irish economy, directly and indirectly supporting over 214,000 jobs, accounting for almost two-thirds of all Northern Irish exports and making up one-third of the entire Northern Irish economy. Given our importance to the regional economy, we cannot allow ourselves to be unprepared for Brexit. This campaign and the sectoral guides provide support and guidance to manufacturing firms across Northern Ireland and will provide clarity in an otherwise uncertain landscape.”

Dr Trevor Cadden, Ulster University Business School said:

"Many companies are hugely concerned about the current Brexit uncertainty and how difficult it will be to navigate a changing landscape. A lot of businesses in Northern Ireland lack the skills and resources to prepare for Brexit, so we trust that this unique set of easily accessible online supply chain resources will help guide them in the right direction.”