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South West

Sector profile

  • The South West accounts for 8% of all engineering employment and 9% of all engineering establishments in Great Britain.
  • The engineering sector in the South West employs 129,400 people in 6,470 establishments.
  • 94% of engineering establishments in the South West employ less than 50 people.
  • The largest sectors in terms of employment are mechanical equipment, electronics and metal products.
  • There are above average concentrations of employment in the marine and aerospace sectors when compared to Great Britain.
  • Engineering employment is geographically concentrated around South Gloucestershire, Swindon, Plymouth, South Somerset, Poole and Tewkesbury.

Workforce demographics

  • 94% of the engineering workforce in the South West is employed on a full-time basis.
  • 82% of the engineering workforce in the South West is male.
  • 3% of the engineering workforce could be classed as non-white.

Recruitment and skills

  • Nearly 9,000 people were recruited into the engineering sector in the South West during March 2006/07, representing 6.9% of total employment. This compares with the Great Britain figure of 7.7%.
  • There was an estimated 1,530 hard-to-fill vacancies within engineering establishments in the South West during March 2006/07, particularly for process plant and machine operatives (43%) and skilled trades (37%) vacancies.
  • The main reasons cited for hard-to-fill vacancies were lack of applicants with required qualifications and skills (68% of engineering establishments in the South West with hard-to-fill vacancies), lack of applicants with required working experience (26%), and general lack of applicants (17%).
  • 22% of engineering establishments in the South West reported skill gaps, marginally more than the proportion within the UK (21%). The incidence of reported skill gaps within the region ranges from 18% of both mechanical equipment and electrical equipment and electronics establishments to 32% of automotive establishments.
  • 23% of all engineering establishments within the South West employed apprentices or recognised trainees. However, this varied considerably by size of establishment, ranging from 55% of those employing 250 or more people to only 7% of those employing less than 10 people.

The sciences

The South West of England is a major centre of biomedical research with internationally recognised expertise, employing around 15,000 people in 500 companies. Employment in the sector is growing faster than the national average with a 48% increase between 1998 and 2004. The following areas are those of key bio-activity in the south west region:

  • Biomedical
  • Healthcare

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