According to a report by Santander and Make UK, the electronics manufacturing sector grew by 4.4 percent and 12.4 percent in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Despite representing less than 5 percent of the UK’s total manufacturing output, the electronics sector still generated £19.4bn in turnover and £8.4bn in gross value added (GVA).
That’s a significant change in fortunes for the UK electronics sector following a period of decline in the early 2000s, when lower-cost manufacturing in Asia seriously threatened the future of the industry. However, now the recovery looks complete, with the sector employing over 300,000 people in more than 12,000 companies across the UK.
What has driven the resurgent UK electronics sector?
The Manufacturing Outlook 2019 Q1 report from Make UK, highlighted that the performance of the electronic sector has benefited from the introduction of new technologies and the move towards further automation. The increase in new technologies can be evidenced by the upturn in UK tech patent applications, which rose by 7.8 percent overall in 2018. That was driven by a 9.9 percent increase in digital communications filings and computer technology filings that surged by an impressive 31.3 percent.
The report also suggested that there were continued opportunities for the UK electronics sector to grow, with four specific areas identified:
- Developing products for an increasing number of new smart devices
- Satisfying export demand from relatively untapped markets - specifically in Asia
- Capitalising on the rise of digital medicines
- The roll-out of 5G across the UK’s main cities
A shortage of skills could jeopardise further growth
Despite widespread optimism about the future of the UK electronics sector, there are concerns that a skills shortage could put a dampener on growth. And that’s not just a problem for the UK. The United States and the European Union are also facing significant shortages of skilled workers in the semiconductor and electronic components industry.
The majority of positions in the semiconductor industry are non-technical support roles that do not require in-demand skill sets. This is due to the rise of services-based output from tech companies. However, despite that shift, there is still a growing need for technically skilled workers, and they are proving to be far more difficult to hire.
What’s the reason behind the skills shortage?
With levels of employment in the UK near record lows, market conditions are undoubtedly playing a part. Add to that the fact that electronics manufacturers now require an increasingly complex range of skills, and it’s perhaps not surprising that there’s a shortage. A recent report by Oxford Economics (pdf) into the EU skilled employment shortage also found that electronics manufacturing jobs pay less than similar positions in other fields, which is luring some of the available talent away.
John Mitchell, CEO of the IPC, the Association Connecting Electronics Industries, called sourcing the talent to meet the industry’s ever-evolving technical needs “some of the most difficult challenges facing the electronics industry in Europe and worldwide”.
Are you looking for talented candidates in the UK electronics sector?
14 Apr 2021
The New Bar for Electronics Recruitment
PER Specialist Recruitment is setting new standards in electronics recruitment. Find out what sets our industry specialists apart.
14 Apr 2021
How to Sell Yourself With a Flawless Sales CV
Having trouble selling yourself? Then read our guide to creating an attention-grabbing sales CV that gets you noticed for all the right reasons.
08 Mar 2021
Contingency or Exclusivity - Which Recruitment Model is Right For You?
Many of the employers we work with are not aware that there are two different models of recruitment that shape our relationship with them. With that in mind, we thought it was worth putting together a guide that provides an insight into each of the recruitment models, how they work and what the benefits are for you.
23 Feb 2021
How to Write a Great Engineering CV
Want to write an engineering CV that gets you noticed for all the right reasons? Then read our guide to perfectly calibrating your engineering CV.
31 Jan 2021
State of the Power Electronics Recruitment Market for Design and Sales
After a COVID-sized slump, the power electronics recruitment market for design and sales roles is now recovering. If you’re looking for a talented power electronics professional, our unique insights will show you why now could be a great time to hire.
18 Jan 2021
State of the Power Electronics Jobs Market for Design and Sales
It’s fair to say that the power electronics jobs market has been on a bit of a bumpy road over the last six months. However, if you’re looking for a new role in power electronics sales or design, the good news that the jobs market has bounced back. Demand is now on the up, with employers increasingly looking for candidates with design-in wins.
22 Dec 2020
At PER-International, the COVID-19 hiatus is over and we’re officially back to doing what we do best - connecting the world’s best electronics, power electronics, SMPS, UPS and semiconductor professionals with leading employers around the world.
09 Mar 2020
What is the impact of the coronavirus on the global supply chain?
The coronavirus outbreak has had a significant impact on the global supply chain, but when will it peak and how is it affecting businesses around the world?
24 Jan 2020
How to get a non-EEA visa to work in the UK electronics industry
Calling all migrant electrical engineers – the UK needs you. But how can non-EEA electrical engineers tap into opportunities in the UK electronics industry?
12 Dec 2019
Rapid growth creates skills shortages in the UK electronics sector
The UK electronics sector experienced the fastest rate of growth of any manufacturing sector last year, but a shortage of skilled workers threatens to stop the industry in its tracks.
13 Nov 2019
Electrical engineers are added to the UK’s shortage occupation list
PER-International is happy to report that recent changes to the UK’s visa policy mean that electrical engineers and electronics engineers have now been added to the Shortage Occupation List.
13 Sep 2019
US-China trade war reroutes global electronics supply chains
Global electronics supply chains are being rerouted as a result of the continuing trade war between the US and China. However, it’s the US importers who are being left to pick up the bill.