Total manufacturing jobs fell by 11,000 in the second quarter of 2011, driven by a fall in self-employment in the sector. There is some good news underneath this, though, as the number of employee jobs in the sector actually rose, by 6,000. Additionally, while redundancies in the sector edged up, to 19,000, in the last three months, this number remains low by historical standards. As such, although we continue to forecast falls in manufacturing employment, these will be at the slowest rate since 1998, which was the last year in which manufacturing employment grew.
Employment in manufacturing has been falling for several years, but underlying this trend has been a significant improvement of the skills and occupational levels of people in manufacturing. UKCES forecasts suggest that the proportion of people in "higher level" occupations in manufacturing will have risen from 27% in 1997 to 37% in 2017.
Employment by occupation in manufacturing in 1997, 2007, and 2017 (forecast)Proportion of employees in different occupations
Manufacturing may employ fewer people than it has done in the past, but they are in better, more highly-skilled jobs: exactly the kind of jobs the UK economy needs if it is to continue to compete on a global scale.