25 June, 2024

UK Regions and Nations see manufacturing jobs boost

03 July, 2023

The number of jobs in manufacturing has grown in six of eight English regions along with Wales, highlighting the importance of the sector to hopes of levelling up across the UK by creating highly skilled and better paid jobs.

According to Make UK, the figures also counter the long-held narrative of inevitable decline in manufacturing employment and show, as is happening in the US, that growing manufacturing jobs and the sector’s share of the economy is a realistic prospect given a supportive policy framework.

The findings come in the Make UK/BDO Annual Manufacturing Outlook Report which provides a comprehensive analysis of the contribution of manufacturing to each English region and devolved Nation. It analyses a number of metrics including industry’s share of regional and national economies, number of jobs and share of regional/national employment, together with sectoral analysis.

However, despite the increase in the number of jobs across most English regions, Make UK stressed that substantial labour challenges remain. According to the latest official data, 74,000 vacancies remain unfilled, at a cost in economic output of approximately £6.5bn.

Verity Davidge, Director of Policy at Make UK, said:

“Industry remains critical to the growth of the economy, providing high value, high skill jobs and aiding the process of levelling up. But, if we are to address the current anaemic growth prospects for the sector and the economy overall we need bold measures at national and regional level. This must include both a national industrial strategy which allies with local growth strategies to fit with the priorities and strengths of each region, including infrastructure, innovation and skills in particular.”

Richard Austin, Head of Manufacturing at BDO said:

“The manufacturing jobs growth we have seen across the last year is testament to the resilience of the sector as a whole. Manufacturing companies across the UK have had to overcome the multiple challenges thrown up by Brexit, shortages in skilled labour, pandemic-related supply chain delays and the huge energy price rises we have seen following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While everyone is hoping for some respite, the headwinds show no sign of abating. With high inflation and interest rates continuing to rise, manufacturers will need to remain alert, responsive and resilient in the face of any future geopolitical or economic shocks.”

According to official data, Yorkshire & Humber saw the biggest growth in manufacturing jobs (1), adding 46,000 jobs in 2022 compared to 2021, bringing the total number to 316,000, more than one in ten (11%) of the region’s workforce. According to Make UK this is possibly due to the growth of Food and Drink sector post pandemic given it accounts for almost a fifth (16.3%) of regional output. The second largest sector in the region is Chemicals which has also performed strongly in recent years, closely followed by Basic Metals.

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