Skip to main content

Industries


Pharmaceuticals

The pharmaceuticals industry includes: the manufacture of basic pharmaceuticals; and the manufacture of pharmaceutical preparations. It produces everything from antibiotics to the contraceptive pill, develops products that treat common illnesses and continues to pioneer new treatments.

Key statistics (2006):

  • approximately 73,000 people are employed in the industry
  • approximately 600 employers
  • 92% of the workforce are white
  • 44% of the workforce are female
  • 33% of the workforce are aged 35-44 years
  • Level 2 and 3 occupations account for 44% of the industry
  • accounts for 1% of the UK Gross Value Added
  • UK pharmaceutical exports in 2006 was £14.6 billion
  • it has an annual turnover of £15.68 billion
  • it is expected that the industry will have a turnover of £27 billion in 2015
  • it is the fastest growing area of the Cogent sector

The numbers of those employed in the sector was highest in 2002, but, since, it has dropped to 73,000, approximately the employment levels of 1998. However, 355 of companies are expecting to reduce their level of investment in R&D over the next years so changes in the numbers are expected.

It needs highly skilled people to work in the industry. There is shortfall in the number of people employed in the sector with S/NVQ Levels 2 and 3, and an oversupply of people with Level 1 and below qualifications. Level 4 and 5 occupations (such as enior managers, scientists and chemical engineers) account for 61% of the overall workforce.

Drivers of change:

  • expected reduction in the level of investment in R&D
  • increasing levels of uncertainty in the UK pharmaceuticals market environment
  • willingness of Government to support an environment in which the industry can effectively undertake its activities
  • importance of training and recruiting people at very high skill levels to maintain competitive research and production facilities
  • retain the skilled people working in the industry

Sources: Cogent LMI report June 2009, Cogent industry factsheet 2008 and Skills for Science Industries 2008

Return to the top


Petroleum

The petroleum industry includes the following activities: stabilising, refining and manufacturing; storage, blending and distribution; and retail sale of automotive fuel. These activities are also referred to as downstream.

The main product of the sector is transport fuel amounting to about 50 million tonnes per year for both commercial and retail markets. The industry is creating new ‘greener’ fuels so vehicles will become cleaner and less polluting.

Key statistics (2006):

  • approximately 120,000 employees, including forecourt retail
  • approximately 7, 000 employers, including forecourt retail
  • 94% of the workforce are white
  • 24% of the workforce are female
  • 37% of the workforce are aged 35-44 years
  • Level 2 and 3 occupations account for 54% of the industry
  • Level 4 and 5 occupations (such as senior managers, scientists and chemical engineers) account for 61% of the overall workforce
  • the UK is ranked 17th in Europe for competitive performance

There were 9,382 filling stations in the UK at the end of 2006, many of which are owned by supermarkets. Many filling stations owned and operated by both oil companies and independent retailers have closed due to fierce competition and low profits. However, the number of supermarket sites is increasing.

The regional clusters of activity in the industry:

  • stabilising, refining and manufacturing – 21% in Yorkshire and Humber, and 18% in the South East
  • storage, blending and distribution – 16.5% in Yorkshire and Humber, and 15% in Wales
  • heating services (including distribution) – 20% in South East
  • forecourt retailing – 23% in the South East

Skills gaps have been identified for specific segments of the industry:

  • stabilising, refining and manufacturing – insulation engineering skills; health and safety; and management skills
  • storage, blending and distribution – general engineering skills; health and safety; IT; and shortfall in drivers with ADR qualifications (licence to transport hazardous goods)
  • heating services (including distribution) – health and safety; IT; and shortfall in drivers with ADR qualifications
  • forecourt retailing – product skills; health and safety; management skills; and IT

Generic skill needs include: technical; practical; communication; team working; flexibility; problem solving; customer handling; and machine operation skills.

Drivers of change:

  • the declining need for petrol, but a rising demand for diesel
  • minimising the impact of the refining industry on the environment
  • the continuous need to reduce emissions
  • introduction of the Renewables Transport Fuels Obligation in 2008 and the work towards achieving targets for biofuels
  • there will be a need to update and extend existing workforce skills in order to meet new technology and changing demands

Source: Cogent LMI report June 2009, Cogent industry factsheet 2008 and Skills for Science Industries 2008

Return to the top


Oil and gas

The oil and gas industry includes: the extraction of crude petroleum and natural gas; and the service activities incidental to oil and gas extraction (excluding surveying). Oil and gas extraction is sometimes known as upstream.

Key statistics (2006):

  • approximately 290,000 employees (direct and supply chain)
  • approximately 426 employers
  • 99% of the workforce are white
  • 21% of the workforce are female
  • 30% of the workforce are aged 45-54 years
  • Level 2 and 3 occupations account for 55% of the industry
  • the UK is ranked 11th globally for crude oil production
  • it has an annual turnover of £41,546
  • elementary occupations accounts for 1% of the overall workforce

The UK is increasingly being seen as a global centre for the oil and gas industry, and is known as the upstream industry. The industry employs 290,000 employees of which 30,000 are directly employed in oil and gas exploration and production. Exploration and production companies range from small independents through to majors and super majors. The UK is ranked the fourth largest gas producing country and the tenth largest oil producer in the world.

Due to high oil prices, the oil and gas industry in the UK is currently in a period of expansion with increased exploration and appraisal activities. The sector does have a long-term future and has an ongoing requirement for new recruits to replace those going to work in international operations and those who retire in addition to the current expansion demand. In 2020, the UK could still be producing 65% of its total oil requirements.

There is a strong skills base that has developed over the last two decades, which has attracted many overseas companies to the UK. The industry is primarily located in the North East of Scotland, Shetland, the East of England, South East of England and the North East of England. The skills base within the UK also means that UK based companies are competitive in the international market providing products, services and employment to the international oil and gas industry’s operations.

The oil and gas industry is subject to cyclical employment trends so many experienced professionals leave the industry or the country seeking further opportunities or security. Currently, as the oil price is high, the industry is experiencing a period of increased investment and activity meaning that the overall workforce demand has risen.

Key messages about the sector influencing future trends:

  • oil and gas provide 75% of the UK’s primary energy demand
  • oil is an essential component of products as diverse as toothpaste, medicines, plastics, fertilizers, shampoo, fuel and building materials
  • recent estimates suggest that at current demand levels there are sufficient proven global reserves of oil to last for at least 40 years
  • the oil industry is reducing its effect on the environment and oil products are getting cleaner
  • the oil and gas industry contributed 13% of Uk GVA of all production and manufacturing industries
  • a diversity of people are needed for exploration and production activities
  • new discoveries, ongoing operations and planned lifetime extensions, decommissioning activities will have an impact on recruitment demands and skills training

Sources: Cogent LMI report June 2009, Cogent industry factsheet 2008, Skills for Science Industries 2008, Cogent Skill Needs Assessment 2006, Striking a Balance 2005 and Energising Future Generations 2005

Return to the top


Chemicals

The chemical industry involves the manufacturing of: commodity and specialty chemicals; consumer products, such as cosmetics and detergents; active ingredients for the pharmaceutical industry.

Key statistics (2006):

  • approximately 118,000 people are employed in the industry
  • approximately 2,500 employers
  • 95% of the workforce are white
  • 27% of the workforce are female
  • 30% of the workforce are aged 45-54 years
  • Level 2 and 3 occupations (such as process operators, technicians etc) account for 52% of the industry
  • more people are required with Level 2 and 3 qualifications
  • accounts for 2% of the UK Gross Domestic Product
  • it has a growth rate of 2.9% per annum
  • 92% of UK chemicals were exported in 2004
  • pesticides and other agro chemical production is growing

The chemical industry is one of the largest manufacturing industries in the UK growing more than five times faster than the average for all industries. It has sales of £34 billion, but it is fundamentally a research based industry. It is spending around £400 million per annum on training.

Employment levels in the industry have fallen since 1998 and are predicted to continue to fall in the future. Compared to other European countries, this industry has a relatively high proportion employed in medium-sized enterprises. Employment is concentrated in skilled trade, technical and process operator job roles. There continues to be shortages of technical and engineering skills, such as technicians, fitters and operators, but this is a European-wide problem.

On average, full-time employees’ hourly earnings are 19% higher than in manufacturing generally, which reflects the high skill levels, productivity and training levels.

Over the next decade, the industry will need to recruit fewer, but more highly skilled and technology literate employees. These employees will be expected to operate more flexibly and have cross-cutting and change management skills.

The North West comprises almost a quarter of UK employment in the industry and has over 55% of the UK’s employees in basic inorganic chemicals. However, the North East and Yorkshire and Humber are key regions for employment in the industry with 28,000 employees. 25 firms, employing 4,400, manufacture dyes and pigments accounting for 40% of the UK total.

Drivers of change:

  • the need for more highly skills and technology literate recruits
  • new technological developments
  • technology will remain a key driver of upskilling the workforce
  • increasing international competition
  • rising competency standards
  • high energy and raw materials costs
  • cultural change in innovative thinking for a radical redesign in process and products

The industry traditionally recruits form both further and higher education for specialist jobs, for instance:

  • degrees, higher degrees and doctorates are required for highly specialised research and technical staff in applied science and engineering roles
  • generalists, usually graduates, are required to have a level of scientific/technical understanding and numeracy
  • technicians with practical competence are likely to have HNC/HND/Modern Apprenticeship

Generic skills continue to be of significant importance to the development of the industry.

Sources: Cogent LMI report June 2009, Cogent industry factsheet 2008 and Skills for Science Industries 2008 and Cogent Skill Needs Assessment 2006

Return to the top


Nuclear industry

The main activities in the nuclear industry include: Nuclear Heat Generation and Fuel Handling; Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities;

Nuclear Material Processes; and Waste Management. It is becoming an increasingly important industry, which is being driven by the need to reduce carbon emissions. The Government is considering expanding its plans for nuclear power. The UK has 19 powered generation reactors in operation.

Key statistics (2005):

  • approximately 50,000 people are employed in the industry
  • approximately 200 employers
  • 96% of the workforce are white
  • 18% of the workforce are female
  • 35% of the workforce are aged 35-44 years
  • Level 2 and 3 occupations account for 53% of the industry
  • there is a deficit of people qualified at Levels 2 and 3

The nuclear fuel cycle operations are of major international importance providing for all the needs of the UK and much of the export demand. The UK is the 10th highest nuclear generally country globally. Nuclear power provides 18% of the UK’s electricity. The last UK nuclear power station is expected to close in 2035.

The safe and cost effective decommissioning and clean-up of the industry’s power stations and fuel processing facilities are providing future technical and engineering challenges for the industry. The expected cost for decommissioning and clean-up in 2007/08 was £1.10 billion. All parts of decommissioning and clean-up in the UK are the responsibility of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Decommissioning will be a major growth area to 2015 and an estimated 6,000 workers will undertake specific qualifications to do this work. Overall, a 25% decline in workforce capacity if forecast by 2025.

The Ministry of Defence operates 15 nuclear–powered submarines and maintains the Trident programme. These defence activities employ about 10,000 people.

Many British nuclear companies have substantial business in nuclear sector markets abroad. The experience and skills held by the industry in reactor operation, design and construction, maintenance and inspection, waste management and decommissioning technology provide a good basis for export business to a growing global market for facilities management.

Within Nuclear, the highest concentration of employees is in the professional category at 38%, with 24% in skilled trades. To 2015, between 3,400 and 11,500 new entrants will be required. However, this figure is expected to rise to 16,500 as significant numbers of employees are expected to retire. Modest numbers of new recruits at apprenticeship and graduate level will be required to 2025, particularly if power stations are to be rebuilt.

Employment in the industry, specifically nuclear fuel processing, is concentrated in the North West. The nuclear fusion research and industry is centered in the South East and London. A large nuclear shore support base is located in Western Scotland.

It is difficult to get an accurate picture of the occupational profile of the industry, however Cogent research indicates that professionals (engineers and scientists) make up the largest occupational groups (38%). Growth is expected in skilled trades, and associate professionals and technicians to 2025. In the future, losses are forecast in administration and clerical occupations, and elementary clerical and service occupations.

Drivers of change:

  • the rising price of oil and the need to reduce carbon emissions
  • the need for an increase in vocational and technical skills, up to and including Level 3
  • need for more apprenticeships and graduate development programmes
  • the construction of new reactor plants requiring suitably qualified and experienced personnel
  • the replacement of current nuclear expertise resulting from natural retirement attrition

Sources: Cogent LMI report June 2009, Nuclear LMI Highlights 2009, Cogent industry factsheet 2008, Skills for Science Industries 2008 and Cogent Skill Needs Assessment 2006

Return to the top


Polymer industry

The polymer industry comprises four discrete processing areas: plastics processing; rubber processing; polymer composites processing; and signmaking. The main areas of activity in the sector include:

  • conversion of raw polymer into products and components
  • manufacturing and designing machinery and equipment for polymer processing, including moulds, tools and dyes
  • manufacturing and installation of signs
  • design , innovation and research and development, linked to new materials and their applications

Key statistics (2006):

  • approximately 276,000 people are employed in the industry
  • approximately 6,806 employers
  • 94% of the workforce are white
  • 21% of the workforce are female
  • 27% of the workforce are aged 35-44 years
  • 35% of the workforce are in process, plant and machine operative occupations
  • Level 2 and 3 occupations account for 69% of the industry
  • the UK produces 2.5 million tones of plastics per annum
  • the UK is one of the top 5 plastics processing countries in the European Union
  • turnover is expected to be £20 billion in 2015

There is increasing awareness of the importance of polymers across a wide range of engineering applications. The industry is subject to change and opportunities arise from: technological change; development of new materials and processing technology; the development of new products; and changes in consumer requirements. The industry requires innovators, technologists, designers and highly skilled processing technicians.

Companies involved within sign making are often micro companies employing only one or two individuals. National franchised organisations are, however, much larger.

Drivers of change:

  • there remains skill gaps at higher levels and a need to recruit people with competitive business techniques
  • the economic conditions of the UK and wider markets
  • competition from new trading partners including China and India
  • increasing use of polymers in a range of products, particularly green products
  • basing of primary polymer production and original equipment manufacturing operations outside the UK to take advantage of low labour and material costs
  • the increasing cost of crude oil

There are regional clusters of activity in the East Midlands (plastics), West Midlands (rubber processing) and the South East. The North West has 1,000 organisations employing 27,800 in producing plastics.

Sources: Cogent LMI report June 2009, Cogent industry factsheet 2008 and Skills for Science Industries 2008

Return to the top