The results of a major survey of Worcestershire Manufacturers, commissioned by WLEP, are published today.
Nearly 500 Worcestershire based manufacturers agreed to take part in telephone interviews conducted by specialist firm Worcester Research in June. In-depth surveys were then completed with a small sub-set.
The aim was to gain greater understanding of the manufacturing sector in Worcestershire, to identify major barriers to growth facing local businesses and to explore supply chain linkages into and out of the county.
The results show that the county has a high preponderance of small businesses, with 90% employing less than 50 people. Metals and fabricated products make up the largest proportion of all Worcestershire manufacturing businesses, with 29% engaged in this field.
Businesses were optimistic about the future with 33% of those questioned expecting to increase their staffing levels in the next year. However, 14% of respondents were finding that some vacancies were ‘hard to fill’, particularly roles in precision engineering and machine operation. This compares to a national figure of 6%.
The county employs more than the national average number of apprentices: with 21% of manufacturing businesses engaged compared to 18% nationally. Most apprentices are found in the vehicle manufacturing and supply chain sector.
Although broadly positive about their future prospects for growth, a significant minority (17%) expressed dissatisfaction regarding their current premises and the choice and availability of alternative sites. Most dissatisfied were those in the food & drink and ceramics & glass sectors.
There is plenty of scope for export growth as the county has a lower than average proportion of manufacturing businesses who sell their goods outside of the UK – 38% compared to a national SME average of 42%.
Peter Pawsey, Executive Chair at the WLEP, says: “The survey is extremely enlightening and provides us with a useful evidence base to inform the LEP’s work. We were particularly interested to read the evidence around skills shortages and the availability of good sites in Worcestershire for future development and investment. The LEP is already working with partners to develop strategies to address these key challenges which will have a real impact on the future job prospects and prosperity of the county.
The full survey can be accessed here: Manufacturing Survey 2013