Revealed: The cities hit hardest by the manufacturing skills crisis

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Demand for workers to fill roles in manufacturing is outstripping supply by almost seven to one in the UK city hit hardest by the chronic worker shortages in the sector.

Cambridge tops the table with the highest number of vacancies per potential applicant, according to new research from manufacturing software specialist ECI.

The university city currently has around 6.84 manufacturing roles for every person searching for jobs in the sector.

It comes as long-standing labour challenges escalated towards the end of 2021, due to a shortage of EU workers and Covid-related supply chain disruption – leaving many firms struggling to meet demand and protect their margins from wage inflation.

ECI compared the number of manufacturing roles currently being advertised by companies in 60 UK cities, with the number of online searches for roles such as production manager and product design engineer. 

Bristol ranked second as the city worst hit by the labour crisis, with more than five roles available for each person looking for work in manufacturing, followed by Salford at 2.61.

According to the research, the 10 cities where there are more roles than potential applicants are: 

Rank

City

Approximate number of roles per applicant

1

Cambridge

6.84

2

Bristol 

5.3

3

Salford

2.61

4

Birmingham

2.4

5

Newport

1.88

6

Cardiff

1.78

7

Bradford

1.75

8

Belfast

1.65

9

St Albans

1.45

10

Oxford

1.42

Commenting on the findings, Darren Toy, Product Director, Product Development at ECI said: “The UK is a leader in manufacturing innovation – but it can only fulfil its potential if it has a workforce that can deliver world-class products. Manufacturers right through the supply chain need to be properly-resourced in order to meet sudden surges in demand and, as we’ve seen recently, mitigate the impact of rising costs.” 

“Cambridge is well-known for its pioneering work in life sciences, pharmaceuticals and aerospace – but the critical labour shortages firms are now facing could make it difficult for firms to meet demand.”

He added that the collective efforts of industry, government, colleges and trade organisations were needed to encourage people to pursue a career in manufacturing:

“Apprenticeship and training opportunities are one of the most effective ways of nurturing homegrown talent and inspiring the next generation to choose manufacturing. This won’t happen overnight but there are steps that firms, particularly SMEs, can take in the meantime. 

“Manufacturing software enables them to create a modern workplace that will appeal to digitally-minded applicants, while also making shop floor processes more efficient. The additional capacity they gain means they can fulfil more orders without necessarily taking on more staff, so they can grow sustainably.”

Methodology 

ECI used data from Indeed UK to discover the number of vacancies for manufacturing-related roles within five miles of each major city. 

ECI then compared this with data from Google Keyword Planner to discover how many people in each city were searching for the manufacturing-related jobs. 

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