‘UK Manufacturing: 2018/19 The Facts’ dispels the myth that a manufacturing career is poorly paid: the average salary in the sector is £32.5k, compared to £29k for the overall economy and £28.3k for services. Every manufacturing sub-sector has higher average salaries than the service sector apart from food & drink, while the highly skilled transport sub-sector commands salaries of £39.8k.

Regionally, the average salary for manufacturing is higher than the regional average in every part of the UK except London, where the City dominates. The north west of England is the single biggest region by output, as well as being the region that has seen the biggest growth in output since the previous annual snapshot last year – up to £26.9bn from £24.2bn. The West Midlands has also seen significant output growth.

The transport sub-sector has overtaken chemicals/pharmaceuticals to claim the top spot on R&D in the industry and within touching distance of overtaking food & drink as the largest manufacturing sector.

Productivity has also grown, with five sectors outperforming services and the wider economy. Leading the way is the electronics sector, which has seen a 13.5% growth in productivity between 2012 and 2017. Overall manufacturing continues to exceed the whole economy (up 3.1% compared to 2.4%).

“Our latest data continue to show that UK manufacturing punches above its weight in some vital areas of the economy and contributes more than the sum of its parts,” said Ms Lee Hopley, EEF chief economist. “This is reflected regionally, in productivity and pay levels, for millions of people working in the sector.

“It provides an important reminder that we’re still one of the top ten biggest manufacturing nations and we want to see policy makers working with industry to help move UK manufacturing up the rankings.”

Manufacturing’s importance to the wider economy is further demonstrated by the fact that the industry accounts for 45% of all UK exports. The United States remains the largest single destination for UK-made goods (£43.1bn), although seven of the top ten destinations for UK exports are in the European Union. China and the UAE make up the rest of the top ten.

This, according to EEF, highlights the need to ensure that there is minimal disruption to trade with the EU after Brexit.

“The research reinforces how important the manufacturing sector is to the UK and demonstrates that Britain is at the forefront of technological change,” commented Paul Brooks, UK head of manufacturing at Santander Corporate & Commercial. “The UK is a strong exporter of goods with nearly half of all our international trade generated by the manufacturing sector. We are also delighted to see manufacturing output spread regionally across the UK with a thriving North West.”