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Wales

The Cogent sector employs 26,700 employees which is 5% of the UK Cogent sector workforce. Over 90% of the workforce are employed full-time and have a permanent contract. The employee numbers in Wales account for 6% of chemicals, 4% of pharmaceuticals, 6% of polymers and 9% of petroleum industries in the UK. There are 1,100 employers in Wales, 70% of which have between 1-10 employees.

The sector in Wales has a £34 billion turnover, which contributes to 2% of the Cogent sector total turnover. It also contributes 2% to the sector total GVA (Gross Value Added).

Five of the sector’s industries are active in the country. There are refineries in South West supporting a supply chain of chemical and polymer employers. In Gwynedd, Trawsfynydd Power Station is a decommissioned reactor and in Anglesey Wylfa Power Station is still in operation. In North East Wales, the upstream oil and gas industry employs both an onshore and offshore workforce at Billiton and in Liverpool Bay respectively. In the South West, there has been an increased workforce demand as work on the new LNG terminals started in 2007.

There is limited data available of the workforce profile and some of it is unreliable as numbers are low so some caution is required for the following data:

  • a greater proportion of the workforce is aged 25-44 years
  • 73% of the sector workforce is male, compared to 53% of the country’s workforce
  • 95% of the workforce is white, compared to 98% of the country’s workforce
  • the proportion of the workforce with higher level qualifications (42%) is lower than that of Wales overall (49%) and the UK (53%)
  • the mean weekly pay is £519.20 in Wales, compared to £381.50 for the whole sector in the UK


The occupational profile of the sector in Wales will change over the next ten years; an increase in managers and senior officials is expected together with a decline in operators and technicians. Replacement demand is projected to be highest for operative occupations. Net demand for workforce across the sector in Wales over the period 2004–2014 is projected to be in the region of 10,000 employees.

15% of establishments in the Cogent sector reported vacancies, which is 6% lower than the figure for Wales. 6% of organisations report hard to fill vacancies and 3% report skills shortage vacancies. Technical and practical skills are lacking the most, with some employers reporting lack of understanding of instrument equipment. Internal skills gaps are reported by 20% of organsiaitons, which is 2% higher than the UK national average. These skills gaps are most likely to occur amongst skilled trades, transport and machine operatives and professional occupations. These gaps related to: problem-solving skills; other technical and practical skills; and communication skills.

There is a significant deficit of people with qualifications at Level 2 (25%) and Level 3 (5%).

54% of establishments offer off-the-job training. 81% of employers in the sector did not provide training because employees are sufficiently skilled. Time constraints, the cost of training and a lack of money to fund training are identified as barriers to training.

Sources: Cogent regional factsheet 2008 and Cogent Sector Skill Needs Assessment 2006