The process and manufacturing sector contains over 800,000 people across the UK, and over 111,000 people work in the North West.
Around 77% of the companies in the sector in the North West 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 West is dominated by male workers (69%), although the proportion of women in the sector is rising year on year.
Around 26% of employees in the North West sector fall into the process, plant and machine operatives occupational category, and a similar percentage are classed as skilled trades (20%). Also, managers/senior officials make up 17% of the total workforce. 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.
31% of companies in the North West reported a decline in sales over the last year, compared with just 11% in 2006.
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, and around 11% sees improving skills as a viable response to the recession.
Higher proportions of the sector 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.
Around 18% of companies in the North West report skill gaps. These exist across the range of occupational groups, but are most common in the North West amongst professional occupations (20% of occupational group), elementary occupations (12% of occupational group) and both process, plant and machine operatives and skilled trades (10%). The most common specific skill gaps are those of a technical, practical or job-specific nature.
Source: Proskills Sector Skills Assessment – England 2010
The North West sector profile, 2007/08
Source: Proskills Sector Skills Assessment – England 2010, annex F. Data derived from the Annual Business Inquiry 2007 and the Labour Force Survey 2008.