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At the turn of the year, just 22 of the 100 mechanical and plant engineering managers surveyed expressed positive expectations for the global economy, states the PwC survey . This is the lowest figure since the first such survey in 2014. Accordingly, the decision-makers anticipate growth of only 1.4%; just last quarter, this figure stood at 4.9%. The mechanical engineering industry needs to prepare for turbulent times, says Dr. Klaus-Peter Gushurst from PwC: “In addition to the general slowdown in the economy, the austerity measures announced for the automotive industry in particular and also the uncertainties surrounding foreign trade – due to Brexit, forecasts for China, and US tariffs – do not bode well for an easy start to the new year.”

According to the PwC survey , the skills shortage represents an increasingly serious problem. Of the survey participants, 82% now state this as the biggest obstacle to growth. At the same time, they also state that staffing costs are rising, since the laws of the market rule here: The harder it is to find highly qualified employees, the more money you need to offer them.

The economic reality looks a little brighter, at the moment, at least. The German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) reports that in November 2018, incoming orders for the German mechanical engineering industry were at the previous year’s level, although domestic orders declined by 3%.