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Land-based engineering

The land-based engineering industry includes:

  • Agricultural machinery (i.e. tractors, combine harvesters, cultivation and crop protection machinery)
  • Ground care machinery (i.e. garden, sports turf and local grounds maintenance machinery)
  • Forestry machinery (i.e. chainsaws, chippers and harvesters)
  • Fixed machinery (i.e. grain/crop processing and milking equipment)
  • Construction machinery (i.e. lift trucks and mini diggers)

The industry also includes manufacturers, dealerships, machinery hire companies and independent mechanics. Technicians are a key occupational role within the industry making up 25-50% of the workforce.

Key statistics:

  • There are approximately 16,465 people working in the industry in England, in around 2,515 businesses.
  • The industry employs around 2% of the environmental and land-based sector’s total workforce.
  • 80% of businesses employ less than 10 staff, 18 employ between 10-49 staff and only 1.6% employ 50 or more staff.
  • The industry’s workforce has proportionally more people over the age of 40 than under.
  • 80% of the workforce is full-time.

Jobs in the industry include: apprentice trainee technician, manager manufacturing, demonstrator, manufacturing service engineer, diagnostic technician, farm-based or independent/non-franchised engineer, sales person, workshop supervisor, crane operator, yardman

Entry requirements for this industry vary depending on the job role. Some jobs require no formal qualifications. However, relevant qualifications and experience can be an advantage.

Drivers of change in employment are:

  • Labour supply – Demand for land-based service engineering is linked to the seasonal activity of the agricultural sector. Migrant labour can be used to supplement the UK workforce in the short-term.
  • Climate change – Businesses within the sector need to respond to climate change through improving sustainability skills, increasing accountability, planning longer term, protecting surrounding landscapes and scarce water supplies, and supporting biodiversity.
  • Economic change – Machinery is often exported, rather than sold on within the UK, leading to a reduced need for service contracts with dealers. Whilst the quantity of machinery required has decreased; the actual size of machinery has increased.
  • Health and safety – Given the size of the industry, there are problems in managing, standardising and enforcing health and safety policies and practices.
  • Legislation and regulations – Devolution has manifested fragmented policy and strategies across the UK.

Specialist technical skills are the most required by employers. The current and future skills that will become increasingly important include:

  • Business and management skills (e.g. planning and organising, financial accounting)
  • Technical/job specific skills
  • Essential skills (e.g. literacy, numeracy, communication and customer relations)

National and regional data:

  • East Midlands – There are an estimated 4,266 employees in the regional workforce, in 350 around businesses.
  • Scotland – There are an estimated 2,529 employees in the regional workforce, in around 355 businesses.
  • South West – There are an estimated 3,264 employees in the regional workforce, in around 390 businesses.
  • South East – There are an estimated 2,353 employees in the regional workforce, in around 335 businesses.
  • West Midlands – There are an estimated 1,980 employees in the regional workforce, in around 300 businesses.
  • Northern Ireland – There are an estimated 1,957 employees in the regional workforce, in around 295 businesses.
  • Wales – There are an estimated 1,881 employees in the regional workforce, in around 185 businesses.
  • North West – There are an estimated 1,490 employees in the regional workforce, in around 260 businesses.
  • East of England – There are an estimated 1,238 employees in the regional workforce, in around 415 businesses.
  • Yorkshire and the Humber – There are an estimated 898 employees in the regional workforce, in around 295 businesses.
  • North East – There are an estimated 514 employees in the regional workforce, in around 75 businesses.
  • London – There are an estimated 462 employees in the regional workforce, in around 95 businesses.

Pay scales in this industry are variable, so the following only provides an indication of the annual salary paid to some full-time positions:

  • Land-based engineer can start on around £18,000 to £24,000, Incorporated land-based engineers can earn up to £40,000, whilst a Chartered land-based engineer can earn £60,000 or more
  • Land-based technician apprentice can start on £8,000 - £10,000, rising to £38,000 or more for diagnostic technicians with advanced skills
  • Agricultural Engineering Technician can start on between £12,000 - £13,000 a year, with qualifications this can rise to between £13,500 - £20,000. Senior agricultural technicians can earn up to £25,000.

Further information on salaries can be found on the Defra website.

Source: Lantra AACS LMI report 2010