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Future Trends



  • There are likely to be far fewer opportunities for people with lower level skills – either due to sophisticated machinery taking over tasks formerly carried out by staff or the jobs being sent overseas for lower-paid workers to perform. Operatives increasingly need to be able to multi-task e.g. being on the production line but also dealing with quality control checking and/or machinery maintenance.

  • Many of the firms involved in manufacturing have hi tech premises and staff need to be able to operate sophisticated (and very expensive) equipment. In spite of the recession and recent redundancies (which are happening in all sectors), the industry needs highly skilled young engineers, scientists and other technically minded people to join it

  • Many countries which pay lower wages than ours are also producing increasing numbers of graduates in science and engineering. The UK’s strengths, such as in the pharmaceutical industry, could decrease. The pharmaceutical industry, however, still has a £50bn turnover and the UK is a world leader in various research areas.

  • If scares regarding quality occur (such as lead found in toys manufactured overseas), people might be prepared to pay more for goods made in this country.

  • Smaller businesses and the self-employed face numerous challenges which could put them out of business – eg strict health and safety procedures for food producers.

  • The cost of raw materials is likely to keep increasing. This pushes the cost of manufacturing up and some businesses are likely to struggle.

  • Numerous environmental issues might have an impact on the sector. For instance, world food shortages mean nutritious food products need to be developed by scientists, and a dwindling supply of rain forest plants (which are used to create drugs) could mean problems for the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Various markets are expected to grow for manufacturers. Examples include companies involved in medical equipment, security technologies, robotic engineering, and new energy products.
  • If the pound continues to be weak, this might keep overseas demand for UK goods high. However, when and if the pound becomes stronger, the price of UK goods will increase and demand is likely to go down
  • New inventions, such as 3D printing – a way of fabricating objects designed on the computer – has become more affordable, which should make manufacturing more viable on a smaller scale

  • Manufacturing experts say that the UK can excel in design and innovation (which it is well known for) and specialist manufacturing – including 3D printing, advanced materials manufacture and 'just-in-time' manufacture.  


Read more about this job sector, including the skills that might be needed in the future, on the National Guidance Research Forum site