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North West

Sector profile

  • The North West accounts for 11% of all engineering employment and 11% of all engineering establishments in Great Britain.
  • The engineering sector in the North West employs 143,300 people in 7,620 establishments.
  • 94% of engineering establishments in the North West employ less than 50 people.
  • The largest sectors in terms of employment are metal products, mechanical equipment and aerospace.
  • There are above average concentrations of employment in the aerospace and marine sectors when compared to Great Britain.
  • Engineering employment is geographically concentrated around Fylde, Knowsley, Crewe and Nantwich, Stockport, Oldham and Preston.

Workforce demographics

  • 94% of the engineering workforce in the North West is employed on a full-time basis.
  • 83% of the engineering workforce in the North West is male.
  • 2% of the engineering workforce could be classed as non-white.

Recruitment and skills

  • Nearly 10,000 people were recruited into the engineering sector in the North West during March 2006/07, representing 6.8% of total employment. This compares with the Great Britain figure of 7.7%.
  • The survey results imply an estimated 2,100 hard to fill vacancies within engineering establishments in the North West during March 2006/07, particularly for skilled trades (40%) and process plant and machine operative (28%) vacancies.
  • The main reasons cited for hard to fill vacancies were lack of applicants with required qualifications and skills, (67% of engineering establishments in the North West with hard to fill vacancies), lack of applicants with required working experience (36%), and general lack of applicants (13%).
  • 22% of engineering establishments in the North West reported skill gaps in the current workforce, marginally more than the proportion within the UK (21%). The incidence of reported skill gaps ranges from 33% of other transport establishments to 18% of electrical equipment and electronics establishments.
  • 19% of all engineering establishments within the North West employed apprentices or recognised trainees. However, this varies considerably by size of establishment, ranging from 58% of those employing 250 or more people to only 8% of those employing less than 10 people.

The sciences

The northwest’s strength is based on the presence of several major pharmaceutical companies in the region, a rapidly expanding biotechnology community and internationally renowned academic and clinical research strengths. The main types of bio-activity in the region include:

  • Biopharmaceutical manufacture and research
  • Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine
  • Treatment of infectious diseases
  • Clinical trials and informatics
  • Cancer research and care

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