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49,000 people are employed in the Scottish food and drink manufacturing sector. The bakery and drinks sub-sectors dominate Scottish employment in the sector, accounting for 25% and 23% of employment, respectively.

There are 1,500 workplaces in the Scottish sector, accounting for 14% of sector workplaces in Great Britain. 62% of staff work in organisations of between 1 and 10 staff, and only 3% work in organisations of over 200 staff. Workplaces in the sector are concentrated in Aberdeenshire (10%), Highland (9%) and Glasgow City (7%). Within Aberdeenshire, the workplaces are mainly in the fish processing and bakery sub-sectors.

Between 2000 and 2007, 10,000 jobs were lost, equivalent to a 17% drop in employment levels. These job losses were primarily in the drinks, fish and meat processing sub-sectors. Total employment in the Scottish sector is forecast to fall by approximately 3% between 2007-2017, a smaller proportion than the UK sector average of a 6% decline. Despite the decline in employment numbers, projections indicate that the sector in Scotland will need 16,000 new recruits between 2007-2017.

The beverages sector generates the highest turnover of all the sectors, accounting for 41% of the total sector turnover in the nation. This is followed by the meat (31%) and fish processing sub-sectors (13%).

Workforce statistics:

  • 64% of the workforce is male.
  • Males tend to dominate in the meat, drinks and dairy sub-sectors and women account for a greater than average share in the bakery and confectionery sub-sectors.
  • Between 2000 and 2007, the male share of the workforce declined from 35,600 to 31,000 workers (-13% drop in employment levels) whereas the female share of the workforce declined from 23,000 to 17,800 workers (-23% drop in numbers).
  • 88% of the workforce is employed full-time.
  • 26% of all female workers are employed part-time, compared with 5% of all male workers.
  • Sector employees are aged: 25-29 years (14%); 40-44 years (13%); 35-39 years (12%); and 20-24 years (12%).
  • Over a third of the current workforce will retire in the next 20 years.
  • 94% of sector employees are white and 6% are Asian/Asian British.
  • 8,400 non-UK nationals are estimated to be working in the sector.
  • 8% of sector workers in Scotland have some form or work-limiting disability, 3% are registered as work-limiting disabled only and 5% are registered as DDA disabled and work-limiting disabled. A further 4% are registered as DDA disabled.
  • 3% of people working in the Scottish food and drink manufacturing sector are are self-employed and 1% are on a government scheme.
  • 9,800 workers (22%) in the sector have no qualifications, a notably larger proportion than the UK sector average (14%).
  • 6,300 workers (14%) in the sector hold their highest qualification at Level 4 or above.

Vacancies and skills:

  • The Scottish food and drink manufacturing sector is characterised by a vacancy rate of 3% and a hard-to-fill vacancy rate of 2% (both the same as all industries).
  • Vacancies within the sector were most evident in associate professional and technical, machine operatives, and skilled trades staff.
  • Hard-to-fill vacancies were most evident in elementary, machine operative and associate professional and technical job roles.
  • Skills gaps affect a higher proportion of employers in the sector (30%) than all industries.
  • Where skills gaps arise, employers most frequently cite weaknesses in oral communication, and problem solving.

81% of Scottish sector businesses stated that they provide some type of training for staff. This was mainly on-the job training (76%) and some off-the job training (23%).

This training normally focuses on mandatory requirements – food safety, hygiene, health and safety – basic competency skills that employees need to develop. Some companies offer accredited N/SVQ training, which tends to be level 2 vocational qualifications which address basic food and drink production skills. In some cases this extends to providing a Modern Apprenticeship. Others have decided to develop their own tailored training courses internally.

Source: Scotland Labour Market Information Profile 2009/2010