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West Midlands

Sector profile

  • The West Midlands accounts for 17% of all engineering employment and 15% of all engineering establishments in Great Britain.
  • The engineering sector in the West Midlands employs 213,000 employees in 10,430 establishments.
  • 93% of engineering establishments in the West Midlands employ less than 50 people.
  • The largest sectors in terms of employment are metal products, mechanical equipment and automotive.
  • The West Midlands has particular concentrations of employment in the automotive and metals sectors when compared to the rest of Great Britain.
  • The largest concentrations of engineering employment are located around Birmingham, Sandwell, Walsall, Coventry, Dudley and Telford and Wrekin.
  • Workforce demographics
  • 95% of the engineering workforce in the West Midlands is employed on a full-time basis.
  • 81% of the engineering workforce in the West Midlands is male.
  • 10% of the engineering workforce in the West Midlands could be classed as non-white (6% for UK engineering).

Workforce demographics

  • 95% of the engineering workforce in the West Midlands is employed on a full-time basis.
  • 81% of the engineering workforce in the West Midlands is male.

Recruitment and skills

  • 10% of the engineering workforce in the West Midlands could be classed as non-white (6% for UK engineering).
  • The main reasons cited for hard-to-fill vacancies were lack of applicants with required qualifications and skills (65% of engineering establishments in the West Midlands with hard-to-fill vacancies) and lack of required working experience (31%).
  • 19% of engineering establishments in the West Midlands reported skill gaps in the current workforce, slightly less than the proportion within the UK (21%). The incidence of reported skill gaps within the region ranges from 26% of automotive establishments to 10% of other transport equipment establishments.
  • 17% of all engineering establishments within the West Midlands employed apprentices or recognised trainees. However, this varies considerably by size of establishment, ranging from 59% of those employing 250 or more people to only 3% of those employing less than 10 people.

The sciences

According to the Advantage West Midlands report (Medical Technologies -Cluster Research Project, Advantage West Midlands) companies already operating in the region believe that the following sectors provide key opportunities for the region:

  • Materials and their processing through to manufacturing
  • Structures for devices, including their control systems and software
  • Orthopaedics and assistive technologies
  • Telemedicine, especially monitoring of wellness and care in the community
  • ICT/e-technology
  • Infection control

The West Midlands is also known for:

  • The most advanced ophthalmic surgical centre in the UK, located at The Academy of Life Sciences, Aston University.
  • Creation of the first pacemakers and plastic heart valve.
  • Development and commercialisation of the first ‘his and her’ home fertility kits.
  • Trial and development of the first allergy and herpes vaccines.
  • Concept and development of first ever device to detect skin cancer – SIAscope
  • There are at least 400 to 500 companies active in the West Midlands that have some part of their turnover derived from medical technologies. It is known that around 500 to 600 additional companies have had some recent interest or involvement in medical technologies. Almost half of the activity in the West Midlands is manufacturing related and more than a third service oriented.

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