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Machine Compare

10 interesting facts about the UK manufacturing industry

14 August 2020

UK manufacturing is now entering a new era with technologies such as automation, AI and the fourth industrial revolution helping boost productivity, innovation and streamlining production.

As we navigate this COVID-19 pandemic it’s clear to see production and creativity in this sector are well and truly booming with collaborative efforts from a multitude of companies making a huge and positive impact.

To celebrate we’ve collected 10 interesting facts about the UK’s thriving manufacturing sector.

1. The UK manufacturing sector is worth £192 billion of annual output

With an annual output of £192 billion the manufacturing sector is responsible for providing millions of high paying jobs across the country.

2. Manufacturing contributes 11% GVA to the UK economy

Despite the decline since the 1970s when manufacturing contributed 25% of the UK GDP the manufacturing sector remains a strong source of GVA, contributing 11% to the UK economy.

Another factor to bear in mind is although the contribution of manufacturing to GDP has declined on paper many of the services provided to manufacturers that would have once been considered part of “manufacturing” – such as catering, building services, logistics, cleaning and so on – have now been allocated into different areas of the economy.

3. There are 2.7 million employees in the manufacturing sector in the UK alone

With 2.7 million employees in the manufacturing sector the food and drink industry remains the biggest sector, employing more than 450,000 workers according to statistics from the Food and Drink Federation.

4. Employees in the manufacturing sector earn 13% more than the rest of the economy, with an average salary of £33,592

A study put together by Make UK and Santander squashes the myth that manufacturing jobs aren’t well paid with the average salary coming in at £33,592 compared to £29,832 for the whole economy and above services at £29,014.

5. The UK is the world’s 9th largest manufacturing sector 

The UK is the world’s 9th largest manufacturing sector an increase in two positions from 2015 when it was outside of the top 10 in 11th place.

China remains the strongest country although only time will tell what the impact of COVID-19 has been.

According to the United Nations Statistics Division China accounted for 28% of global manufacturing output in 2018. That puts China nearly 10% ahead of the US who previously maintained this position until China took its place in 2010.

6. Manufacturing makes up a whopping 66% of the UK’s R&D

Over half of the UK’s R&D comes from the manufacturing industry at 66%.

According to data published in the ‘UK Parliament Research and Development Spending’ white paper the pharmaceutical industry contributed the most R&D in the UK in 2018, worth £4.5 billion, closely followed by the automotive manufacturing industry, worth £3.8 billion.

7. The US is the UK’s number one export and import destination for manufactured goods

Manufactured goods imported and exported from the UK to the US helps generate £118.2bn to the UK economy making the US the number one destination for manufactured goods.

8. UK exports to the EU are more than double the value of those to the US

The value of trade being exported to the EU from the UK is worth more than twice that of the United States with seven of the UK’s top export destinations located within the EU.

9. By region, the North West has the biggest output, worth £28.5bn

The North West of England has the largest output in manufacturing with over £28.5bn worth of products created in 2018, closely followed by London and the South East of England with each region producing £28.1bn according to data published by MAKE UK.

10. Transport is the UK’s fastest-growing manufacturing export, with an average annual growth of 7.4%

The transport sector has led the way in export growth increasing by 7.4% largely on the back of continued growth in aerospace, closely followed by food and drink which increased by 5.3%.

When broken down by sector the export picture of manufactured goods is also dominated by transport (25.5%) followed by Pharmaceuticals & Chemicals (17.9%).


Data cited in this article has been taken from numerous sources: