• Background South West

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    Sector Overview

    Manufacturing & Processing

    • More people are employed in the manufacture of Food, Beverages and Tobacco than any other sub-sector

    • The fastest growing sub-sector is the manufacture of Aircraft, Rail, Marine and Motorcycles

    • There are over 4,500,000 people employed in the sector

    • Manufacturing is the second biggest sector in terms of exports to other countries

    • The most money for research and development of products is put into Pharmaceuticals

    • Chemicals are one of the biggest manufacturing exports

    Manufacturing is the production of merchandise using labour, tools or machines. It can refer to anything from a small craft shop to a huge factory with machines assembling TVs British manufacturing has gone a bit downhill since the 1960s, however the actual quality and value of the products has gone up! The industry is incredibly important to the UK economy and employs over three million people. Despite employing less people than 40 years ago, Britain’s manufacturing sector is still the sixth biggest in the world today!


    Manufacturing & Processing


    Aerospace engineering is split into two sections; aeronautics (anything that flies in our atmosphere) and astronautics (anything that goes into space, such as shuttles and satellites). Within both of these disciplines, you’ll be looking at the different factors that affect these aircraft, such as aerodynamics, control surfaces and propulsion systems.


    This area of Manufacturing relates to anything vehicle related; cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, campervans, fire engines and anything else that goes on the road originates from this sector. The UK is so renowned for its vehicle manufacture that companies from other countries, such as Honda, Nissan and Toyota have set up factories here! You could be working in a whole range of areas, from developing a new petrol cap to actually constructing a whole vehicle.


    The UK electronics products industry is the fifth largest in the world and we produce all sorts of things; from laptop computers to microwave ovens. Not only that, but we also manufacture a lot of electrical components, such as circuit boards, semi conductors and microchips. Working in this area demands a skilful eye; you might find yourself developing parts that can only be seen under a microscope!


    Metals manufacturing in this country has always been an important industry to the UK economy. Metal has a million uses and therefore, it has plenty of different job roles associated with it. Not only that, but with recycling becoming big business, a greater number of jobs are becoming available in this sector. As well as recycling plants, you could find yourself working at a foundry (where metal moulds are made for other industries), an ore extraction facility (where metals are dug up and processed in their raw forms) or even as a blacksmith, making items such as specialist tools, garden gates or horseshoes.


    Chemical manufacturing is all about taking raw materials and turning them into useful things. This has a whole range of applications across various industries, such as pharmaceuticals, food and drink, textiles and synthetic products. You could be working in a laboratory researching and experimenting, or on the factory floor maintaining the machines that mix the chemicals.

    Building Products

    Those materials that builders use don’t just appear out of nowhere; bricks, pipes, grills and glass are all made in manufacturing environments. There are so many different job roles involved in creating building materials, so there’s a need for skilled young people (that’s you! ) to start. You could be working with a kiln making bricks, or using plastic moulds to make piping for gas and water networks!

    Example Job Roles

    We couldn’t possibly list all the job roles for this sector (well we could, but you’d be reading something as thick as a phonebook), but here are some job roles that you’ll find in most aspects for Manufacturing:

    • Assembly Line Worker
    Using the components provided, you will be assembling the products ready to be shipped out across the world. This could be fitting a microchip to a device, or packing a TV remote in with a home media system. The starting salaries are usually around £13,000.

    • Materials Technician
    These guys are responsible for testing out how well products perform under certain conditions, such as cold, heat and water. Salaries usually start out between £14,000 and £17,000 a year.

    • Supervisor
    Supervisory roles are always needed in this industry to monitor the various parts of the manufacturing process. Salaries start out at around £16,000 for apprentices, but fully qualified supervisors can easily earn in excess of £32,000.


    Manufacturing & Processing


    This is the most popular route into this sector, because of the hands on nature of the learning. An apprenticeship allows you to learn your trade while also being paid a salary. There are many employers and colleges out there who provide apprenticeship schemes. Below you will find the Apprenticeships frameworks relevant to this industry, which will give you an idea of what you’ll be able to choose from. All these frameworks result in a Level 2 qualification, such as NVQ’s BTEC’s or Diplomas, are the equivalent of 5 GCSE passes and takes two years to complete.
    Ceramics Manufacturing • Combined Manufacturing Processes • Engineering Construction • Extractives and Mineral Processing Occupations • Food and Drink • Glass Industry • Jewellery, Silversmithing and Allied Trades • Polymer Processing Operations • Process Manufacturing

    Advanced Apprenticeships

    This is the equivalent of two A levels, but without sitting in a classroom studying. Like a regular Apprenticeship, it’s suited to more practical fields of work. Advanced Apprenticeships in construction only take a year and on completion you will receive a Level 3 Qualification, either a BTEC, an NVQ or a Diploma.
    Combined Manufacturing Processes • Engineering Manufacture (Craft and Technician) • Extractives and Mineral Processing Occupations • Food and Drink • Glass Industry • Jewellery, Silversmithing and Allied Trades • Polymer Processing Operations • Process Manufacturing


    A-Levels might not sound relevant to this field of work, but employers and universities both like candidates with scientific and practical subjects. Here are some examples of A-Levels you could study to gain entry to this industry.
    Maths • Physics • Chemistry • Biology • Design and Technology • Textiles

    Foundation Degrees

    If you feel like you want to experience the university lifestyle and perhaps break away from those troublesome parents, then a Foundation Degree is a way of getting there. They usually last two years (this does tend to vary depending on your choice of course) and mix study with practical learning. These courses are available across the country and might give you the opportunity to live away from home and give you more independence – you’ll get to choose your own bed time and everything. They are available in a whole host of subjects, such as Modern Manufacturing, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and Electrical Systems.

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    Manufacturing & Processing