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North East

Sector profile

  • The North East accounts for 5% of all engineering employment and 3% of all engineering establishments in Great Britain.
  • The engineering sector in the North East employs 63,200 people in 2,310 establishments.
  • 90% of engineering establishments in the North East employ less than 50 people.
  • The largest sectors in terms of employment are mechanical equipment, metal products and automotive.
  • There are above average concentrations of employment in the automotive and electronics sectors when compared to Great Britain.
  • Engineering employment is geographically concentrated around Sunderland, Gateshead, Sedgefield, Newcastle upon Tyne and Redcar and Cleveland.

Workforce demographics

  • 96% of the engineering workforce in the North East is employed on a full-time basis.
  • 85% of the engineering workforce in the North East is male.
  • 3% of the engineering workforce could be classed as non-white.

Recruitment and skills

  • 6,700 people were recruited into the engineering sector in the North East during March 2006/07, representing 10.6% of total employment. This compares with the Great Britain figure of 7.7%.
  • 17% of engineering establishments in the North East had hard-to-fill vacancies over that period (17% for UK engineering).
  • The main reasons cited for hard-to-fill vacancies were lack of applicants with required qualifications and skills (58% of engineering establishments in the North East with hard-to-fill vacancies) and lack of applicants with required working experience (38%).
  • 28% of engineering establishments in the North East reported skill gaps in the current workforce, more than the proportion within the UK (21%). The incidence of reported skill gaps ranges from 56% of other transport equipment establishments to 19% of mechanical equipment establishments.
  • 29% of all engineering establishments within the North East employed apprentices or recognised trainees. However, this varied considerably by size of establishment, ranging from all of those establishments employing 250 or more employees to only 6% of those employing less than 10 employees.

The sciences

Healthcare is a leading employer in the northeast region, with over 140,000 people working in biotechnology, healthcare and life science companies, the NHS and associated health organisations. Collectively, these generate an annual turnover of more than £4 billion. The following are key areas under investigation in the northeast area:

  • Diagnostics
  • Medical devices
  • Clinical trials
  • Pharmaceuticals

High level medical research is being carried out in the region’s universities and institutes (including the Institute for Ageing & Health, the Life Knowledge Park and many others). There are also strong clinical capabilities within the region’s hospitals.

Source: Semta LMI report March 2010 and North East Engineering Skills Balance Sheet Executive Summary 2008