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North East

The process and manufacturing sector contains over 800,000 people across the UK, and over 34,000 people work in the North East.

Around 69% of the companies in the sector in the North East have fewer than 10 employees, and although only 1% of companies have more than 200 employees, they represent over a quarter of the total workforce. The sector workforce in the North East is dominated by male workers (82%), although the proportion of women in the sector is rising year on year.

Around 29% of employees in the North East sector fall into the process, plant and machine operatives occupational category, and a similar percentage are classed as skilled trades (23%). 21% of employees are classed as managers/ senior officials. Recent forecasts suggest that employment in manual and semi-skilled roles will continue to decrease as this shift progresses, but also that there will be a simultaneous rise in higher level managerial and technical roles.

Around a third of all employers in the sector recognise that there is a vital need for improved skills, both in their own workforces and in the pools from which they recruit. Around 12% of all employers see improving skills as a viable response to the recession.

38% of companies in the North East reported a decline in sales over the last year, compared with just 11% in 2006.

Around 22% of companies in the North East report skill gaps. 50% of these employers say that skill issues are costing their businesses money and increasing workload for other staff, and that 45% of companies with skill issues, see increasing training activity as the best response.

Skills gaps exist across the range of occupational groups, but are most common in the North East amongst associate professionals/ technical occupations (58% of occupational group), elementary (22% of occupational group), and skilled trades (18%). The most common specific skill gaps are those of a technical, practical or job-specific nature. Higher proportions of the workforce are qualified to level 2 than in the UK workforce as a whole, but there are lower proportions of employees qualified at level 3 and above.

Source: Proskills Sector Skills Assessment – England 2010

The North East sector profile, 2007/08


Source: Proskills Sector Skills Assessment – England 2010, annex E. Data derived from the Annual Business Inquiry 2007 and the Labour Force Survey 2008.