Manufacturing skills crisis leaves Bristol with five vacancies for each job seeker

July 1, 2022

Bristol has been named as one of the UK cities hardest hit by the chronic shortage of manufacturing workers – with five roles available for every person looking for work.

The city, home to Europe’s largest aerospace sector cluster, ranks second in a new table created to illustrate the impact of the shortage of workers on manufacturing firms across the country. 

According to the research by software specialist ECI, which analysed job vacancies in 60 UK towns and cities, Bristol is only just behind Cambridge in bearing the brunt of the skills crisis.

Bristol firms had posted 316 vacancies when the research was carried out earlier this year – but just 60 people with the relevant experience and skills were actively seeking work.

That means there were 5.3 roles for each job seeker – which ECI claims could result in 81% of Bristol firms’ vacancies going unfilled.

The report has been published following long-standing labour challenges which escalated towards the end of last year due to a shortage of EU workers and Covid-related supply chain disruption.

These have left many firms struggling to meet demand and protect their margins from wage inflation.

ECI compared the number of manufacturing roles advertised by companies with the number of online searches for roles such as production manager and product design engineer.

It points out that Bristol’s skills crisis is despite the West of England having 94,000 science, technology, engineering and maths students at its four universities.

The report says: “Like Cambridge, Bristol has the skills to drive innovation but is struggling to fill essential shop floor vacancies.

“As our analysis shows, there are currently more than five manufacturing roles available for every job seeker, more than double that of the third-ranking city, Salford.”

ECI product director Darren Toy added: “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.”

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,” he said.

“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.”

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