Number of manufacturing jobs falls 600k in 10 years

By Matt Atherton contact

- Last updated on GMT

600,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in 10 years
600,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in 10 years

Related tags: Late-2000s recession, Gmb

Britain urgently needs a manufacturing strategy from the next government, after more than 600,000 manufacturing jobs – including food and drink manufacturing roles – were lost over the past 10 years, claims the GMB union.

The union claimed 17% of British manufacturing jobs had disappeared since 2006. The lost jobs meant total manufacturing wages have decreased £11.3bn over the past decade, GMB said.

GMB national secretary for manufacturing Jude Brimble said: “The UK is haemorrhaging manufacturing jobs – and that is a massive problem for both our workers and our economy. We should cherish our manufacturing sector, but instead successive governments have driven it into the ground through a lack of investment and tendering processes that hamper our home-grown businesses.

“Whoever wins the next election must develop a procurement strategy supporting UK industry, build strong British supply chains and a balanced energy policy to keep our country’s lights on. If this sad decline is not addressed then post-Brexit Britain and the next generation will surely pay the price.”

22% of manufacturing jobs lost

The figures – from the Office for National Statistics – revealed wide regional variations in the number of manufacturing jobs lost.

Scotland and the north east of England lost 22% of their manufacturing jobs between 2006 and 2016, according to the figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The highest percentage of manufacturing jobs lost came from the Westminster North, and West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, parliamentary constituencies (-88.7% and -78.2%, respectively). See the map below for information on all constituencies.

But, EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation said the widening skills gap was of more concern than total manufacturing jobs lost, and more jobs were now becoming available.

EEF chief economist Lee Hopley told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “The GMB is right to claim that manufacturing has shed a significant number of jobs between 2006 and 2016. But, the data shows these losses were mainly between 2006 and 2011 – a mix of the consequences of globalisation, technology and recession on the sector.

‘The lows of the great recession’

“Subsequently, it’s not been all bad for jobs, with employment coming back from the lows of the great recession period.

“Indeed of greater concern is the widening skills gap that is emerging. Manufacturers continuously cite the lack of skilled recruits as one of the greatest risks to their business. As manufacturing evolves, with greater automation and the implementation of 4IR technologies, creating a pool of skilled and educated workers to fill vacancies will be of imperative importance.”

Despite the falling number of manufacturing jobs, the UK was still the ninth largest manufacturer in the world, EEF said. Its importance to the UK economy remained significant, it added.

Meanwhile, EEF revealed this week that the total number of workers in the manufacturing sector could fall by 0.8% next year​.

What they say about manufacturing jobs

  • “The UK is haemorrhaging manufacturing jobs – and that is a massive problem for both our workers and our economy. We should cherish our manufacturing sector, but instead successive governments have driven it into the ground through a lack of investment and tendering processes that hamper our home-grown businesses.”

Jude Brimble, GMB

  • “Indeed of greater concern is the widening skills gap that is emerging. Manufacturers continuously cite the lack of skilled recruits as one of the greatest risks to their business. As manufacturing evolves, with greater automation and the implementation of 4IR technologies, creating a pool of skilled and educated workers to fill vacancies will be of imperative importance.”

Lee Hopley, EEF

Related topics: Services, People & Skills

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