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The water industry is made up of the regulated water utility companies, non-regulated subsidiary water companies (e.g. involved in construction, engineering, consultancy, laboratory services, etc) and the associated supply chain. Together they are responsible for the supply of clean water to customers up to and including the internal stop valve on the customer’s property and the collection and treatment of waste water.

The key drivers of change within the water industry are: regulation, legal instruments, fragmentation of the supply chain, capital investment and technology, river management, flood and coastal defence, and reliability of supply.

Key statistics on the water industry:

  • There are 166,500 people employed in the industry, which includes:
    • 37,000 working in Water Companies and Utilities (Regulated)
    • 15,000 in Support Services as Consultants
    • 30,000 in Support Services as Contractors
    • 30,000 in Support Services - Plant/Equipment
    • 6,000 Regulators
    • 14,000 Others
    • 28,000 in Water Utilities Owned (non-Regulated)
  • There are an estimated additional 6,500 people who are self-employed and working in the industry.
  • There are an estimated 2,650 business units in the UK.
  • The water industry has not been recruiting in any significant numbers for over 15 years, this has been driven by efficiency savings required by the regulator.
  • 1 in 4 businesses have experienced a skills gap over previous 12 months.
  • Forecast steady long term growth in UK demand for water, with average annual growth of between 0.5% and 0.75%.
  • Around 3,000 new workers per year will be required by the industry between 2008 and 2017.

Key statistics on the workforce:

  • Total workforce has fallen by 40% since 1986.
  • 26% of workers are female, which is highest percentage of any utility sector.
  • Around 21% of managerial employees are female, compared to around 34% across the UK economy. Females make up 70% of the workforce within the administrative and secretarial occupations, but only 18% of professionals and 22% of associate professionals.
  • 93-96% of workforce is White.
  • Industry employs relatively few younger workers aged 16-24.
  • Higher percentage of professionals, associate professionals, plant and machine operatives than either energy and utilities or all sector averages.
  • 91% of employees work full-time.
  • There is a low percentage of the workforce with no qualifications, but a significant proportion with S/NVQ Level 2 (42%) and “other” qualifications (40.1%).

Source: Energy & Utility Skills Sector Skills Agreement: The Water Industry 2006

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Gas (upstream)

Upstream gas consists of the transportation of gas from beach terminals through the National Transmission System, into the Local Distribution System, and then up to, and including, the main control valve adjacent to the customers property.

Within the gas (upstream) sub-sector, the key drivers are essentially: regulation; restructuring; security of supply; technological developments; and infrastructure renewal. There is a predicted future shortage of higher-level technical and engineering occupations due to the high number of workers due for retirement within the next decade.

Key statistics on the upstream gas industry:

  • There are an estimated 20,000 employees in the UK upstream gas industry.
  • The gas upstream industry contains a relatively small number of employers (c.150).
  • Operational work is often contracted to third party organisations.
  • The gas industry was most likely to report a hard-to-fill vacancy in 2005.
  • 71.1% of organisations provide off-the-job training for employees.
  • Gas demand is forecast to grow at approximately 2% per annum.
  • 10.6% of organisations had recruited under-24 year olds direct from school or college and 21% of establishments recruited graduates in 2004/05.
  • Gas networks and Registration Schemes are significant drivers for training, since all contractors and employees working on gas networks must have a qualification.

Key statistics on the upstream gas workforce:

  • 93% of the workforce is ‘White’.
  • One-in-ten people are employed in ‘operative/elementary’ occupations.
  • Three-quarters of ‘administrative and secretarial’ and ‘sales and customer service’ roles are undertaken by women, although around 25% of ‘managerial’ occupations are held by women.
  • A greater proportion of employment, compared to the energy and utilities sector and UK averages, within the following occupations; ‘administration and secretarial’ and ‘sales and customer service’.
  • 87% of the gas workforce is employed full-time within the UK, compared to 76% for the all industry average.
  • Over 50% of employees have ‘other’ qualifications that are specific to the gas industry.

Source: Energy & Utility Skills Sector Skills Agreement: The Gas Industry 2006 and Energy & Utility Skills LMI report March 2010

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Gas (downstream)

The gas downstream sub-sector consists of all activities that take place on the customer’s side of the main control valve (including the meter) such as installation and maintenance of central heating systems and other gas appliances. The gas (downstream) sub-industry operates within the context of continued CORGI/ACS accreditation, technological developments and fuel efficiency.

Key statistics on the downstream gas industry:

  • There are an estimated 123,700 employees in the UK downstream gas industry.
  • The downstream sector is dominated by small and micro businesses.
  • There are approximately 52,000 installers registered in the UK with CORGI.
  • 95% of installers employ less than five people.
  • 29% of employers have a business plan.
  • 29% have recruited a young person direct from school, college or university in the last year.

Key statistics on the downstream gas workforce:

  • There are a large proportion of operatives approaching retirement age (60-65 years).
  • 32% of workforce is sole traders.
  • The highest density of operatives can be found in the South East of England, with the lowest in the South West and London.
  • Almost 90% of operatives are registered for domestic installations.

Source: Energy & Utility Skills, Sector Skills Agreement Stages: The Gas Industry 2006

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The power industry covers the activities associated with the generation, transmission and distribution of power. It is dominated by a relatively small number of large organisations. There is free market competition between the organisations.

There are around 35 major generating companies operating in the industry and a growing population of small power generators. Most of the employees in the industry are employed by the 50 largest organisations.

The key drivers of business change within the power industry can be summarised as: regulation; restructuring (including multi-utilities); intensified competition; increased customer service; technological developments; and reliability and security of supply.

There is now fierce competition between utility companies for business and also for skilled workers, which leads some businesses to poaching rather than working co-operatively to train and develop a pool of suitable workers. The industry has experienced a high level of acquisition, merger and takeover activity and new players have entered the market. Since privatisation, there has been a trend towards the use of contractors.

Key statistics on the power industry:

  • 950 power business units functioning across the UK.
  • The power industry has a wide distribution of employment across the UK nations.
  • 1 in 2 organisations are reporting skills gaps.
  • 89% of employers feel there are shortages of appropriately skilled/qualified people in the marketplace.
  • 67% of employers feel there is a shortage of applicants.
  • Around 2,000 new workers per year will be required by the power industry between 2008 and 2017.

Key statistics on the workforce:

  • The estimate of the total power workforce is approximately 87,000.
  • 57% of employees were recruited within the last 10 years.
  • Over the last 20 years the workforce has reduced by between 40% - 60%.
  • The power industry employs more professional, skilled trades and sales and customer service occupations than either the UK or energy and utilities sector averages.
  • Senior positions are mostly filled by older employees, with sales and customer service attracting younger employees.
  • 93-96% of the power workforce is White.
  • 0.7% of the industry’s workforce regards themselves as disabled.
  • 27% of the industry’s workforce is female, concentrated in; administrative and secretarial, sales and customer service roles.
  • Around 20% of managerial employees are female, compared to around 34% across the UK economy
  • 2% of the energy and utilities workforce are non-UK nationals.
  • There is a current shortfall in the number of overhead lines workers to deliver infrastructural renewal and repair.

Source: Energy & Utility Skills Sector Skills Agreement Stages: The Power Industry 2006 and Energy & Utility Skills LMI report March 2010

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Waste management

The waste management industry is primarily concerned with the collection, transport, treatment and final management of waste and recyclables. Once waste is generated from other sectors of the economy, it is collected and passed through a series of processes, resulting in a valuable or non-valuable output. Non-valuable outputs consist of materials that are either sent to landfill or incinerated to produce energy, heat or power. Valuable outputs are dismantled, sorted and then recycled into new products.

The key drivers of change within the waste management industry are: government policies and targets; national and regional responsibilities; health, safety and welfare practices; and new working practices through the introduction of new technologies.

The waste management workforce is likely to change over the coming years as less waste is sent to landfill and more goes through a process that either makes it recyclable, or generates power or heat. Evolution in alternative forms of disposal means that technology in this industry is constantly changing and improving. The areas which are likely to demand a higher level skill-set from the workforce are: operatives; supervisory roles; basic handling; and operational tasks.

Waste management has the highest proportion of the energy and utilities workforce with no qualifications, but is well represented at Level 4 because of the mandatory requirement for a Certificate of Technical Competence (CoTC) for those responsible for the running of waste management facilities.

Key statistics on the waste industry:

  • There is a forecasted growth in demand for waste management services in the UK over the next decade, increasing at around 1.8% per annum.
  • Because of both growth and replacement demand the waste management industry needs to recruit around 35,000 people between 2006 and 2014.

Key statistics on the workforce:

  • Across the whole of the UK, there are approximately 141,000 people employed within the waste management industry.
  • Recycling has seen its workforce grow by almost 200% since 1986. Employment levels in waste collection, treatment and disposal have increased by almost 70%.
  • The biggest increases have been within elementary occupations and corporate managers. Science associate professionals (Level 3) and professionals (Level 4) have also increased significantly.
  • 50% of the industry’s workforce currently has no qualifications.
  • 40% of the workforce is employed within occupations that normally require a Level 3 qualification.
  • 59% of employees are employed in operative/elementary occupations.
  • 18% of the waste management workforce is female.
  • There are particular concentrations of females only in administrative and secretarial (72% are female) and sales and customer service (53% are female) occupations.
  • 96% of the waste management workforce is White.
  • 78% of the UK’s waste management workforce is employed in England.

Source: Energy & Utility Skills Sector Skills Agreement Stages: The Waste Management Industry 2006 and Energy & Utility Skills LMI report March 2010

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