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Building products

The UK building products sub-sector plays a key role in the UK’s construction sector producing plaster products and fibre cement for construction purposes. The sub-sector also covers the manufacture of: refractory ceramic products; bricks, tiles and construction products in baked clay; concrete and plaster products for construction purposes; fibre cement; other articles of concrete, plaster and cement; abrasive products; other non-metallic mineral products; plus ceramic insulators and insulating fittings.

There has been a decline in the number of employees over the last decade, but the last year, in particular, has shown a significant decline in employment levels as a result of the economic downturn. Nearly half of all businesses having contracted and seen the size of their workforce reduced. However, this appears to be levelling off.

Key statistics:

  • There are an estimated 51,000 people employed in the sub-sector, across 3,000 workplaces.
  • Workers in the sub-sector tend to be full-time and directly employed, rather than on a contract basis.
  • Work is often shift-based, especially in lower levels jobs.
  • 87% of the workforce is male.
  • 98% of the workforce is white.
  • 7% of workforce is 16-24 years, 25% 25-34 years, 27% 35-44 years, 26% 45-54 years, 14% 55-64 years and 1% is 65 years and over.
  • 13% of the workforce considers themselves to have a disability.
  • 17% of the workforce has a Level 1 or entry level qualification, 29% a Level 2, 18% a Level 3, 11% a Level 4 and 7% a Level 5 qualification.
  • Annual turnover for the sub-sector is currently around £7.5 billion.
  • There are 907 sole traders.

Jobs in the sub-sector range from: trainee engineer (apprentice), maintenance engineer, mobile plant operative, production operative, team leader, pre-cast concrete installer (cladding and flooring), quality assurance technician, engineering tradesmen, quantity surveyor, engineering manager, quality assurance manager, production director

Nearly a quarter of companies say that there is a need to increase workforce skills. Generally, the skill needs for the future will be in higher level management and technical operations. There will be a continuing need for health and safety skills in the sub-sector. It will become more important for people to be multi-skilled and able to work across several areas of the business.

The largest occupational groups in the sub-sector are:

  • Process Plant and Machine Operatives
  • Managers and Senior Officials
  • Skilled Trades Occupations

The majority of companies in the sector (84%) are located in England. The Midlands, the North West and the South East are dominant regions in terms of the building products sub-sector. 63% of employers in the sub-sector employ between 2- 9 people, 25% employ 11-49 people, 11% have 50-199 employees and 2% of companies employ more than 200 people.

Around three quarters of the workforce are in larger companies, 29% of which report having skill gaps. Skill gaps are most prevalent in production and technical jobs.

Source: Proskills AACS LMI report 2010 and The 2009 Employer Survey – Building Products