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Glazed ceramics

The UK ceramics sub-sector covers the manufacture of: ceramic household and ornamental articles; ceramic sanitary fixtures; ceramic tiles and flags; and other ceramic products. The sub-sector has declined in size over the last decade, but more recently employment numbers have stabilised. The outlook for the future is more positive, with most companies expecting things to improve or stay the same.

Key statistics:

  • There are an estimated 30,000 people employed in the sub-sector, across 1,200 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.
  • 51% of the workforce is male.
  • 2% of workforce is 16-24 years, 29% 25-34 years, 17% 35-44 years, 33% 45-54 years, 16% 55-64 years, and 2% 65 years and over.
  • 17% of the workforce considers themselves to have a disability.
  • 17% of the workforce has a Level 1 or entry level qualification, 19% a Level 2, 20% a Level 3, 10% a Level 4 and 16% a Level 5 qualification.
  • Turnover for the sub-sector is currently around £1.4 billion.
  • There are 2,903 sole traders in the sub-sector.

Jobs in the sub-sector range from: ceramics designer-maker, kiln controller, ceramic decorator, ceramic/potter maker

Generally, the skill needs for the future will be in higher level management and technical operations. This is particularly important as more elementary tasks become automated. 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.

Skill shortages in the sub-sector include:

  • Employability skills, such as team-working, having a good attitude, and using initiative
  • Craft and Technical skills, such as the use of new technology, design and use of clay
  • Management and Leadership skills

The largest occupational groups in the sub-sector are:

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


88% of companies are small with fewer than 25 employees, but 12% of organisations with 25 or more people employ an estimated 67% of the total workforce.

The proportion of companies reporting vacancies is 11%, which is considerably higher than the sector average.

12% of ceramics organisations have skill gaps. Skill gaps are most common amongst skilled trades, elementary roles and administrative/ secretarial occupations. A large majority of companies report that skill gaps have an adverse impact on their businesses.

Source: Proskills AACS LMI report 2010 and The 2009 Employer Survey – Glazed Ceramics