Skip to main content

South East

Sector profile

  • The South East accounts for 12% of all engineering employment and 15% of all engineering establishments in Great Britain.
  • The engineering sector in the South East employs 157,000 people in 10,640 establishments.
  • The largest sectors in terms of employment are electronics, mechanical equipment and metal products.
  • There are above average concentrations of employment in the electronics and electrical sectors when compared to Great Britain.
  • Engineering employment is geographically concentrated around West Berkshire, Portsmouth, Milton Keynes, Eastleigh, Crawley and Medway Towns.

Workforce demographics

  • 93% of the engineering workforce in the South East is employed on a full-time basis.
  • 79% of the engineering workforce in the South East is male.
  • About 4% of the engineering workforce in the South East is non-white.

Recruitment and skills

  • Over 12,400 people were recruited into the engineering sector in the South East during 2006/07, representing 7.9% of total employment compared with 7.7% for Great Britain.
  • 15% of engineering establishments in the South East reported hard-to-fill vacancies, slightly less than the proportion within the UK (17%).
  • The main reasons cited for hard-to-fill vacancies were a lack of applicants with required qualifications and skills and a lack of applicants with required work experience.
  • 19% of engineering establishments in the South East reported skill gaps in the current workforce, slightly less than the proportion within the UK (21%). The incidence of reported skill gaps ranges from 23% of mechanical equipment establishments to 14% of automotive and other transport equipment establishments.
  • 20% of all engineering establishments within the South East employed apprentices or recognised trainees (22% for UK engineering). However, this varies considerably by size of establishment, ranging from 43% of those establishments employing 250 or more employees to only 9% of those employing less than 10 employees.

The sciences

The South East has the highest concentration of health technologies companies in the UK and employs a third of the sector. It is home to world-renowned universities, medical schools and institutes undertaking pioneering health research. 30% of the UK's life sciences research and development activity is carried out in the South East; 9 out of 10 of the world’s leading life sciences companies; and the top 12 global pharmaceutical companies have operations in the South East.

The South East region contains over 1000 biotechnology and diagnostics companies employing over 50,000 people. The following industries are key to the South East region:

  • Health Technologies
  • Biotechnology
  • Diagnostics
  • Medical device
  • Pharmaceutical

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