The Future of the Manufacturing & Engineering industry

Posted November 21 2023 By Dylan Webster

Market Overview

The manufacturing and engineering sector is one of Scotland’s largest export sectors. It includes the manufacturing and engineering services side of engineering, with the largest subsections being advanced manufacturing, transport equipment and engineering services.

Recent History in the Market

The biggest challenge in recent history with the Manufacturing and Engineering market was the COVID-19 pandemic. Pre-COVID figures in 2018 show the sector was worth £15.5 billion in 2020 and employed approximately 177,000 people, many highly skilled jobs, up to £3 billion from 2018 and 7,000 extra jobs. Scotland has been rebuilding since, and in order to grow the economy, the manufacturing and engineering sector has become even more critical to the long-term recovery and success of the country’s economy.

In Scotland, demand was high in 2022, with professional jobs in the Manufacturing and Engineering sector among positions commanding top salary increases. The latest data from Hays showed that engineering roles and electrical or mechanical engineers took the top spots, with up to 28% salary increases. For example, Fabrication/Welding roles were up 28% from the average £32,000 salary and manufacturing manager roles went up 18.2% from the £65,000 average wage.

The Present Market

Of course, the industry is in a period of fast growth and will be for the next several years due to the Government plans after the pandemic, so demand for talent is high even though we are in a candidate short market on both the perm and temp side.

Aside from trying to find the right candidate, other challenges that put candidates off taking the job are clients not paying enough wages or being selective in who they are willing to accept. Also, in my recent experience, even when I’m finding suitable candidates, the dropout rates are still high for interviews and even after they’ve accepted the job due to the number of opportunities available in the market and the better salary/rates offered elsewhere.

The Future

In total, the Scottish Government are investing £116 million until 2026 to establish the infrastructure required to make Scotland a global leader in advanced, sustainable manufacturing and help drive Scotland’s economic recovery and future prosperity.

The Government has invested £75 million in the National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS), an industry-led international centre of expertise, making Scotland a global leader in advanced manufacturing.  

The lightweight manufacturing centre acts as a new phase of NMIS, focusing on manufacturing with lightweight materials like carbon giving Scottish companies an edge in new manufacturing processes for lightweight materials. In addition, NMIS have 12 other projects operating under the Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund, which provides free services to small and medium-sized enterprises across Scotland. With the investment, the Apprenticeship in Engineering and Digital Manufacturing has also been created to ensure that Scotland and its employers have the skills necessary to prosper in a digital manufacturing environment. The apprenticeship is the first to incorporate training in artificial intelligence, 3D modelling and data science.

A study by Eden Scott suggested that with the increasing investment in new technology start-ups, much focus has been taken away from traditional engineering business. With manufacturing sectors like energy, life sciences, and food & drink continuing to grow, there is now a situation where engineers are moving away from more ‘heavy’ engineering businesses into these growing sectors.

Scotland’s food and drinks industry is continuing to grow, particularly the drinks industry. In 2016, food and drink exports from Scotland were at a record £5.5 billion, a growth of £42 million. With more businesses expanding their operations, there has been a significant increase in demand for skill sets such as mechanical, electrical and maintenance engineers.

Scotland has seen significant industry growth over the last few years regarding energy. With the industry employing over 50,000 people, it’s no surprise that there has been a demand for traditional engineering experts across its sectors, the largest being onshore wind. 

The life science industry in Scotland is another area where we will undoubtedly see an increase in demand for heavy engineering skill sets. Over 700 life sciences companies are currently operating out of Scotland, and the industry is predicted to be worth £8 billion by 2025. This, coupled with the fact there are over 37,000 people employed in the industry, shows just how prominent the sector is becoming.

Although we have seen a rise for traditional engineering in these growing sectors, Scotland still has a buoyant traditional engineering sector that supplies goods and services worldwide, e.g. Enermech securing a £2.5 million deal with the Royal Navy, which will create jobs going forward.

If you are interested in a career in manufacturing and engineering, get in touch. We have many roles on offer across Scotland and the UK, including but not limited to Mechanical Engineering, Multi Skilled Engineers, Maintenance Engineering, Welders, Platers, Fabricators, Mechanical Fitters, Electricians, Supply Chain Managers, Manufacturing Engineers, Quality Managers, Project Managers, Production Planners, Quality Managers and more.

To find out more about our vacancies, click here to email me directly.

View All Blogs
Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you wish you can restrict or block cookies by changing your browser setting. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website.