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West Midlands

The West Midlands food and drink manufacturing sector generates £6.4 billion turnover annually, accounting for 10% of England’s sector turnover. The sector employs an estimated 33,900 people. It accounts for 10% of the food and drink manufacturing sector’s workforce in England. Sector employment is concentrated in Staffordshire (20%), Birmingham (15%), Sandwell (12%), Shropshire (12%) and Worcestershire (11%).

There are 800 workplaces in the sector, accounting for 9% of English sector workplaces. 68% of staff work in organisations of between 1 and 10 staff, and 5% work in organisations of over 200 staff.

The West Midlands food and drink sector makes up 10% of the region’s total manufacturing workforce.

Between 2000 and 2007, 6,300 jobs were lost, equivalent to a 16% drop in employment levels (a similar decline to the UK sector average of -17%). The meat and bakery sub-sectors dominate employment in the sector, accounting for 25% and 22% of the region’s food and drink processing employment, respectively.

Workforce statistics:

  • 69% of the workforce is male.
  • Males tend to dominate in the dairy and meat sub-sectors and women account for a greater than average share in the confectionery, animal feeds, and fish processing sectors.
  • Between 2000 and 2007, the male share of the workforce declined from 25,200 to 23,500 workers (-7% drop in employment levels) whereas the female share of the workforce declined from 15,000 to 10,400 workers (-30% drop in numbers).
  • 90% of the workforce is employed full-time.
  • 19% of all female workers are employed part-time, compared with 5% of all male workers.
  • The majority of the workforce is aged 45-49 years (17%), 40-44 years (17%) and 50-54 years (15%).
  • 42% of the current workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next 20 years.
  • 80% of employees are white, 12% are Asian/Asian British, 4% are Black or Black British, 1% are mixed, and 3% Other Ethnic Group.
  • 3,100 non-UK nationals are estimated to be working in the sector.
  • 6% of sector workers have some form of work-limiting disability, 2% are registered as work-limiting disabled only and 4% are registered as DDA disabled and work-limiting disabled. A further 5% are registered as DDA disabled.
  • 4% of people working in the sector are estimated to be self-employed.
  • 4,900 workers (17%) in the sector have no qualifications compared with the UK sector average (14%).
  • 9,600 workers (17%) in the sector hold their highest qualification at Level 4 or above.

Vacancies and skills:

  • 15% of employers in the sector report vacancies, a similar proportion to the English sector average (16%).
  • 5% of sector employers have hard-to-fill vacancies, which reflects the English sector average (5%). While 3% of employers report vacancies that are hard-to-fill due to skills shortages (English sector average 2%).
  • 25% of food and drink manufacturing sector employers report skills gaps.
  • Skills gaps are for process, plant and machine operative roles (10%).
  • Total employment in the sector is forecast to fall by approximately 2% between 2007-2017.
  • Despite the decline in employment numbers, projections indicate that the sector in the WM will need 13,000 new recruits between 2007-2017.

Source: West Midlands Labour Market Information Profile 2009/2010