The United Kingdom, where the Industrial Revolution began in the late 18th century, has a long history of manufacturing, which contributed to Britain's early economic growth. During the second half of the 20th century, there was a steady decline in the importance of manufacturing and the economy of the United Kingdom shifted toward services. Manufacturing, however, remains important for overseas trade and accounted for 44% of goods exports in 2014. In June 2010, manufacturing in the United Kingdom accounted for 8.2% of the workforce and 12% of the country's national output. The East Midlands and West Midlands (at 12.6 and 11.8% respectively) were the regions with the highest proportion of employees in manufacturing. London had the lowest at 2.8%.

Manufacturing in the United Kingdom expanded on an unprecedented scale in the 19th century. Innovation in Britain led to revolutionary changes in manufacturing, the development of factory systems, and growth of transportation by railway and steam ship that spread around the world. Its growth was driven by international trading relationships Britain developed with Asia, Europe and the Americas, as well as entrepreneurialism, work ethic and the availability of natural resources such as coal. The main sectors were textiles, iron and steel making, engineering, and later ship building. Between 1809 and 1839, exports tripled from £25 million to £76 million, while imports nearly doubled from £28 million to £52 million during the same period; by 1849, exports were £124 million and imports were £79 million. In many industrial sectors, Britain was the largest manufacturer in the world and the most technologically advanced.

In the later part of the 19th century, a second phase developed which is sometimes known as the Second Industrial Revolution. Germany and later the United States, which developed the American system of manufacturing, caught up and overtook Britain as the world's largest manufacturers in the early 20th century. Nonetheless, Britain remained one of the largest industrial producers. By the middle of the century, in 1948, manufacturing (including utilities and oil and gas extraction) made up 48% of the UK economy. In the post-war decades, manufacturing began to lose its competitive advantage and heavy industry experienced a relative decline. By 2013, the percentage of manufacturing in the economy (including utilities and oil and gas extraction) had fallen to 13%, replaced by services which had risen from 46% to 79% over the same period.

This trend is common in all mature Western economies. Heavy industry, employing many thousands of people and producing large volumes of low-value goods (such as steelmaking) has either become highly efficient (producing the same amount of output from fewer manufacturing sites employing fewer people; for example, productivity in the UK's steel industry increased by a factor of 8 between 1978 and 2006 or has been replaced by smaller industrial units producing high-value goods (such as the aerospace and electronics industries).

About Manufacturing/industrial engineering history

Popular belief is that the sustained growth is due to a better quality; more skilled workforce; a shift in production from low to high productivity goods; improvements in automation and technology; increased investment in R&D, and a more integrated global economy.

UK manufacturing currently:

  • Employs 2.7 million people
  • Contributes 10% of GVA
  • Accounts for 45% of total exports
  • Represents 68% of business research and development (R&D)
  • Provides 14% of business investment

Why choose a career in Manufacturing/industrial engineering?

Despite the decline since the 1970s, when manufacturing contributed 25% of UK GDP, the UK is currently the ninth largest manufacturing nation in the world. Overall, the UK’s industrial sector has increased by 1.4% a year since 1948, according to a recent report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This industry is tailor made for those with an entrepreneurial spirit, an inventive mind and provides a good solid career base for those simply seeking longevity.

What personnel are in demand who should contact us?

There are a wide variety of Manufacturing/industrial engineering related jobs across a range of disciplines. Typically the following personnel can transfer with ease with a little assistance:

General Management, Project Managers, Project Engineers, Process engineers and designers, Piping engineers and designers, Electrical engineers and designers, Mechanical engineers and designers, Structural engineers and designers, Control and Instrumentation engineers and designers, Safety personnel, Technical Safety engineers, planning engineers, maintenance personnel and operatives, document controllers, admin personnel.

There is also a demand for senior commercial and managerial roles (eg.. business development managers, country and sales managers, those with Technical Safety experience, environmental impact assessment, government relations and  management.  

In addition to this there is demand for HSE advisors and contract specialists. In most instances no training will be required prior to placement, but we are able to assist where required. We will put you in touch with employers happy to engage you with your current skills and qualifications.

We will help you re-engineer yourself into this evolving high prospects industry.