Skip to main content

Northern Ireland

Sector profile

  • Northern Ireland accounts for 3% of all UK engineering employment and 2% of all UK engineering establishments.
  • The engineering sector in Northern Ireland employs over 33,200 people (39,600 including self employed and casual labour) in 1,780 establishments.
  • 95% of establishments employ less than 50 people.
  • The largest sectors in terms of employment are the electrical and electronics sector and the metals sectors.
  • Northern Ireland has above average concentrations of employment in the aerospace and electronics sectors when compared to the UK.

Workforce demographics

  • 96% of the engineering workforce is employed on a full-time basis.
  • 82% of the engineering workforce is male.
  • Less than one percent of the engineering workforce in Northern Ireland is non-white

Recruitment and skills

  • Over 2,500 people were recruited into the engineering sector in Northern Ireland between March 2006/07.
  • 17% of all engineering establishments in Northern Ireland reported experiencing hard-to-fill vacancies, also mirroring the figure for the UK.
  • There were an estimated 535 hard-to-fill vacancies within engineering establishments in Northern Ireland over this period, the majority relating to skilled trades/craft (56%) and professional (16%) vacancies.
  • 23% of engineering establishments in Northern Ireland reported skill gaps, higher than the proportion within the UK (21%). The incidence of reported skill gaps ranges from 29% of automotive establishments, to 14% of other transport equipment establishments.
  • 31% of all engineering establishments in Northern Ireland employed apprentices or recognised trainees. However, this varies considerably by size of establishment, ranging from 67% of those establishments employing 250 or more employees to only 16% of those employing less than 10 employees.

The sciences

Northern Ireland’s main focus is on Cancer Biotech and Medical Devices. Other areas where Northern Ireland has strengths are: tissue engineering, diabetes, bioinformatics, clinical trials, neurodegenerative diseases and infectious diseases.

Source: Semta LMI report March 2010 and Northern Ireland Engineering Skills Balance Sheet Executive Summary 2008