Skills Supply – Part 1

Between 2018 and 2023, the advanced manufacturing sector experienced a 5% increase in jobs. This growth rate surpasses the average for the East of England, which saw a 3% increase during the same period.

Notably, specific roles within the sector exhibited substantial growth:

  • Water and sewage plant operatives saw a remarkable 60% increase in employment.
  • Weighers, graders, and sorters experienced a 39% growth.
  • Sewing machinists and telecoms-related network installers and repairers had a 29% increase.
  • Assemblers working with vehicles and metal goods saw a 25% rise in employment.

These figures highlight the positive trajectory of the advanced manufacturing industry and underscore the importance of these specialised roles in driving sectoral growth.

Source: Lightcast Occupational table 2018 – 2023 KK Apr 24. Please note red figures denote a minus figure.


Analysis of the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Sector (February 2023 to February 2024)

There were 20,555 unique job postings within the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector during the specified 12-month period. These postings came from 2,605 distinct employers.

The highest number of vacancies (2,862) was in the category of plant and machine operatives not elsewhere classified (N.E.C.). Following closely were engineering technicians, with 2,441 vacancies. Mechanical engineering positions accounted for 1,959 vacancies.

The top ten vacancies in the East of England during the specified period consist of similar types of job roles. We know that there is a lot of provision for qualifications within this area, It maybe that we need to look more in depth with employers to understand what skills gaps candidates have and how we can support them.

Despite the skills mentioned in job advertisements, applicants’ CVs do not always align with these requirements.

Notably, skills like “communication” and being “detail-oriented” are often mentioned in job ads but may not appear on CVs.

Employers have expressed concerns about a lack of soft skills in the workforce.

While technical skills receive attention, softer skills (such as communication, adaptability, and teamwork) are sometimes overlooked.

In both local Essex and the broader East of England region, we observe a consistent demand for specialist skills related to machinery, mechanical engineering, and engineering drawings. However, these skills are less frequently mentioned in CVs. To address this, we should assess whether these terms are too broad or too specific and consider implementing targeted training programs to bridge the soft skills gap and meet employers’ needs.

It’s essential to focus on enhancing the workforce’s abilities to align with industry requirements. By doing so, we can effectively address the skills shortage and ensure a skilled workforce for the future.

In our analysis of average monthly job vacancies across the region, we identified several key hotspots. These areas exhibit higher job demand and are strategically positioned in relation to significant economic developments.

Chelmsford stands out as a prominent hotspot for job opportunities. Its proximity to major transportation routes and educational institutions contributes to its appeal for both employers and job seekers.

Basildon is another vital hotspot, it has witnessed substantial growth in manufacturing hubs. The town’s accessibility and infrastructure improvements make it an attractive destination for job seekers.

Colchester, with its historical significance and educational institutions, also features prominently in our analysis. The town’s diverse economy and ongoing infrastructure projects contribute to its job market strength.

Braintree completes our list of hotspots. Its strategic location along key transportation corridors, coupled with infrastructure investments, positions it as a hub for employment opportunities.

These hotspot areas correlate with major infrastructure projects, including:

  • Lower Thames Crossing: The proposed Lower Thames crossing aims to enhance connectivity between Essex and Kent. This ambitious project is expected to create jobs and stimulate economic growth in the region.
  • A12 Widening: The expansion of the A12 highway is crucial for improving transportation links. As this project progresses, it will likely generate employment opportunities in the surrounding areas.


Our analysis looked at the average advertised wages across different regions. The data reveals interesting insights:

The average advertised wage in Essex stands at £35,500. This places Essex slightly ahead of both Kent and Suffolk, which have average wages of £35,000 each.

The broader East of England region boasts a slightly higher average wage of £36,500, making it more lucrative than Essex.

Nationally, the average advertised wage is £37,100. Essex falls just below this national average.

In summary, Essex offers competitive wages, outperforming neighbouring counties but trailing behind the broader East of England and the national average.