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North West

The North West food and drink manufacturing sector generates £8.0 billion turnover annually, accounting for 11% of UK’s sector turnover. The sector employs around 56,000 people. I t accounts for 16% of the food and drink manufacturing sector’s workforce in England. Sector employment is concentrated in Lancashire (19%), Cumbria (9%), Wigan (9%), Trafford (6%) and Wirral (6%).

There are more than 1,400 workplaces in the sector, accounting for 16% of English sector workplaces. 65% of staff work in organisations of between 1 and 10 staff, and 5% work in organisations of over 200 staff.

The North West food and drink sector makes up 15% of the region’s total manufacturing workforce.

Between 2000 and 2007, 12,000 jobs were lost, equivalent to a 18% drop in employment levels (similar to the UK sector average of -17%). The bakery and meat processing sub-sectors dominate employment in the sector, accounting for 36% and 17% of the region’s food and drink processing employment, respectively.

Workforce statistics:

  • 67% of the workforce is male.
  • Males tend to dominate in the dairy, oils and fats, and beverages sub-sectors and women account for a greater than average share in the bakery, confectionery, and fish processing sub-sectors.
  • Between 2000 and 2007, the male share of the workforce declined from 43,200 to 37,600 workers (-13% drop in employment levels) whereas the female share of the workforce declined from 24,700 to 18,400 workers (-26% drop in numbers).
  • 89% of the workforce is employed full-time.
  • 24% of all female workers are employed part-time, compared with 4% of all male workers.
  • Employees are aged 20-24 years (15%), 45-49 years (13%), 25-29 years (13%) and 35-39 years (13%).
  • Over a third of the current workforce will retire in the next 20 years.
  • 90% of employees are white, 7% are Asian/Asian British, and 3% are Black or Black British.
  • 6,500 non-UK nationals are estimated to be working in the sector.
  • 5% of sector workers have some form of work-limiting disability, 2% are registered as work-limiting disabled only and 3% are registered as DDA disabled and work-limiting disabled. A further 5% are registered as DDA disabled.
  • 4% of people working in the sector are self-employed and 1% are unpaid family workers.
  • 8,500 workers (15%) in the sector have no qualifications, a similar proportion to the UK sector average (14%).
  • 11,300 workers (20%) in the sector hold their highest qualification at Level 4 or above.

Vacancies and skills:

  • 13% of employers in the sector report vacancies, a smaller proportion to the English sector average (16%).
  • 4% of sector employers have hard-to-fill vacancies, which is a slightly lower proportion than the English sector average (5%). While 1% of employers report vacancies that are hard-to-fill due to skills shortages (English sector average 2%).
  • 17% of sector employers have workforce skills gaps.
  • Skills gaps are for elementary roles (5%) and manager (4%) roles.
  • Total employment in the sector is forecast to fall by approximately 10% between 2007-2017.
  • Despite the decline in employment numbers, projections indicate that the sector in the NW will need 15,000 new recruits between 2007-2017.

Source: North West Labour Market Information Profile 2009/2010