Manufacturing driving strong growth in UK vacancies

Posted on 27 Feb 2014 by Tim Brown

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UK vacancy growth is powering ahead, with the number of advertised job vacancies across the country rising 14% in the past year, according to the latest UK Job Market Report from job advertising site Adzuna.

Overall the UK jobs market improved in January, with a steady increase in the number of advertised vacancies. There were 768,104 vacancies in total, a 14% increase from the previous year, and a 3% increase compared to December.

The growth in vacancies has been boosted by a dramatic increase in manufacturing and engineering sector jobs. Helped by a particularly strong recovery in Britain’s car industry and a growing trend for re-shoring production back to the UK, vacancies in the manufacturing sector, for example, have tripled over the past year.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, explained: “Manufacturing will play a key role in the rejuvenation of the British economy. It will help to increase the productivity of the country’s labour force, and help us catch up with our overseas competitors. The Bank of England has cited that greater economic productivity is needed to validate wage expectations, and manufacturing is one of the key vehicles to drive this forward.”

“At the World Economic Forum in Davos, David Cameron pledged to bring production back to Britain, highlighting manufacturing as an agenda forming topic for the Coalition. Encouraging British businesses to bring their production process home, and building a reputation for quality exports, will help narrow the productivity gap, which will eventually filter through into a pick-up in real-wages.”

Manufacturing leading the way

Manufacturing currently accounts for over 10% of the UK’s gross value and employs around 2.5 million people around the country. It accounts for more than half of the UK’s exports and around three quarters of the country’s business research and development. New orders across the sector increased by a third in the three months to January as exports increased in volume.

Growth in the UK’s car industry has helped to drive the number of advertised vacancies in the manufacturing sector to 10,012 in January 2014 – triple the number advertised in January 2013. Britain built more than 1.5m cars in 2013, the highest total since 2007, spurring experts to predict that UK car production will surpass 1970 record levels by 2017.[3]

Nissan, the UK’s largest car manufacturer, started production of the new Qashqai at its Sunderland factory in January 2014, where more than 7,000 people are now employed. Crossrail has provided further opportunity for new vehicle-production in the UK. Bombardier has won a contract to produce the trains for the project at its Derby factory, as well as being tasked with building a train depot at Old Oak Common in west London.

Image courtesy of Adunza.

The manufacturing recovery is also speeding up as a result of the growing trend among British businesses for re-shoring – bringing production back to the UK. Since 2011, about 1,500 offshore manufacturing jobs have been moved back to the UK.[4] This homeward migration is set to continue as new technologies help the UK to become a more competitive production centre. This ‘third industrial revolution’ is reducing the need for manual labour – traditionally sourced overseas – and increasing demand for highly skilled designers and engineers.[5]

“While the booming car industry is fuelling vacancy growth around the UK, the real future of the UK’s manufacturing industry lies in new technology,” said Mr Hunter. “Manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing could remove the need for many elements in supply chains, bringing large parts of production back to the UK and increase demand for skilled labour in the industry.”

A positive overall picture, but wages are still flat

While advertised vacancies grow, the salary slide has continued. The average advertised salary fell to a 17-month low of £32,011 in January. Compared to January 2013, salaries have fallen 4.6%, equal to a drop in real wages of £2,181.

Image courtesy of Adunza.