Spotlight on Advanced Materials and Manufacturing

Adv Manufacturing image 

Can you see yourself designing or building aeroplanes? Working on satellites? Getting drugs into production that may one day cure serious diseases? Designing colour matching technology to work out the best makeup for different skin tones? If yes then Advanced Materials and Manufacturing could be for you!

  • So what's involved?

    Advanced Materials and Manufacturing  covers a wide range of industries such as, aerospace, automotive, electronics, food, defence, pharmaceuticals, paints and personal care products. Businesses in this sector use a high level of design or scientific skills to produce new products and processes which are technologically advanced.

    Advanced Materials and Manufacturing is often based on new technologies that have many uses.  For example, the materials being developed to replace metals in many goods are also used in shipbuilding and construction

    It uses state of the art equipment, highly skilled people, design, new technologies, research and development.  It is needed to help the UK to be forward looking and able to compete with other countries.  It’s also really important in helping the country become more energy efficient.  This sector employs around 815,500 people in the UK.

    Advanced Materials and Manufacturing is very important to the Welsh economy and was named one of the 9 priority sectors in Wales.  So it’s a good industry to think about at the moment.

    In this area automotive, aerospace and electronics industries have been identified as particular strengths for Wales.

    There are around 44,000 people employed in Advanced Materials and Manufacturing in Wales, although this number fell by around 5% between 2005 and 2009. Although some sectors may see further decline, jobs will be created due to people retiring or leaving the industry.

    8% of people are self-employed which is much lower than the average of 14% in other sectors across Wales.

    92% are employed on a full-time basis, compared to 72% for all sectors in Wales.

  • What does the future hold?

    Between 1999 and 2008 there was an 11% reduction overall in Advanced Manufacturing (5,300 fewer people were employed). Electronics was worst hit with 11,600 fewer people employed. The greatest area of growth was in Aerospace, which saw 3,800 more people employed.

    From 2010 to 2016 in the UK it’s expected that 86,000 people will be required in Advanced Manufacturing, mainly to replace those who leave their jobs due to retirement or other reasons. 4500 of these people will be needed in Wales.

    Employers are likely to need not only higher skills but also higher level qualifications.

    More young people are needed in this industry. Only 9% of the workforce in Wales is aged 16-24 compared with 14% in all sectors in Wales.

    This is also true of girls and women as only 18% of the workforce in Wales is female, compared to 50% for all sectors in Wales.

  • What jobs could I do?

    Jobs in advanced materials and manufacturing are varied and range from more basic roles (known as elementary) to more specialist professional and managerial roles.  Some of the jobs you could consider are:

    Do you know what these jobs involve? Click on them to see, or you might miss out on a job you’d really like!

  • Where could I work?

    Where could I work?

    The areas of work include:
    • Chemicals manufacture
    • Polymer manufacture
    • Biofuels manufacture
    • Algae oil production
    • Anaerobic digestion
    • Enzyme production (detergents)
    • Bioremediation
    • Fermentation processes
    • Oil extraction (food and cosmetics)
    • Electronic engineering, optics and nanotechnology
    • Printing and ink technology
    • Materials science – thin films and coatings
    • Chemistry
    • Physics

    If you’re not sure what some of these sectors involve have a look at for more information.

    The top ten areas in Wales for Advanced Materials and Manufacture Employers are:

    Manufacturing Graph

  • What skills do I need?

    More skills and qualifications are needed for working in Advanced Materials and Manufacturing when compared with traditional manufacturing and engineering. 47% of those in employed in Advanced Materials and Manufacturing are in high skilled occupations, such as managers, professionals and associate professionals/technicians ( i.e. jobs which have specialist skills and usually a high level vocational qualification). This is 16% higher than traditional manufacturing and engineering.

    The industry requires Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) graduates, post-graduates and post-doctoral researchers with an understanding of specific technologies or of the sciences involved.

    As these new technologies hopefully result in new products, there will be more of a demand for skills such as intellectual property (IP) management- e,.g. dealing with copyrights, patents, industrial design rights etc new product and process development and implementation – production and manufacturing engineering,

  • Skills in demand

    The strongest Advanced Materials and Manufacturing industries in Wales are automotive, aerospace and electronics.


    Aerospace is competing for highly skilled people and this is reflected in the salary being on average 36% higher than for manufacturing. Over the next five years there will be a requirement for 8,000 new entrants in management and technical positions.

    There will be increased demand for skills in all occupations, particularly high skilled managers, professionals and technicians to address innovation and emerging technologies.


    Large electronics manufacturing is gravitating towards Eastern Europe and the Far East. Because of this trend the 1,500 people needed over the next 5 years in the UK will be increasing involved in design, research and development and high value, low volume manufacturing.


    Wales is emerging as a centre of excellence for performance engineering and the motor sport industry. Over the next 5 years it is expected that 27,000 people will be needed to cover retirement. Future demand for higher level skills is expected to be strong and there will be a much greater requirement for associate professionals and technicians.

  • What can I earn?

    LMI advance materials earn barchart
    Manufacturing Production Manager £18,200 - £59,000+
    Design Engineer £19,000 – £45,000+
    Electronics Engineer £19,000 - £50,000+
    Aerospace Engineer £19,000 - £51,000+
    Production Engineer £20,000 - £44,000+
    Mechanical Engineering/Engineering Maintenance Technician £15,000-£36,500+
    Marine engineering technician £15,000 -£40,000+
    Engineering Operative

    Starting salary is £12,500 a year.
    Experienced employees earn £20,500 a year or more.
    Operatives with high levels of responsibility earn £25,000 or more

    Motor Vehicle Manufacturing Operative £13,500 - £30,000 +
    Quality Control Inspector £13,000 - £30,000 +
    Stock Controller/Stores Assistant £10,500 - £24,500+
    Engineering Craft/CNC Machinist £15,500 - £30,000 +
    Engineering Maintenance Fitter £15,500 - £36,000 +
    Marine Craftsperson £15,500 - £35,000 +
    Toolmaker £15,500 - £30,000 +
    Labourers in process and plant operations £14,000 - £16,000 +
  • What do I need to do?

    If you’ve got the right skills Advanced Materials and Manufacturing can be a good career option for anyone, but if you’re female find out how more girls are being encouraged to choose careers which use STEM skills as a career.

    If you’re still in education think about choosing STEM subjects as these give you the edge in this sector and open up loads of possibilities. Also try to take part in workshops and activities like the F1 Challenge which let you develop STEM skills.

    From reading this, you will now know that you need to get as qualified as possible to get into this sector. Remember that it’s not just university that could be an option. Apprenticeships and vocational courses could also be available. When you’re ready to think about getting qualified search Courses in Wales which has links to a variety of training, work based and further education opportunities in your area. If you want to find out about apprenticeships and see what’s available try our Apprenticeship Matching Service. So, take the time to research and give yourself the edge!

    Research, research, research! You wouldn’t download music without sampling first. One of the biggest keys to your success is to know as much as you can about the work you’re interested in. Ask friends and family if they know anyone that works in these types of businesses. Speaking to a careers adviser can really help, especially once you’ve done lots of research!

    This website can help get your research underway! Click the links under What Jobs Could I Do for information about getting into different jobs in this industry as well as the weblinks under Useful Links.

    Don’t forget, one of the 3 main reasons employers give for not employing applicants is lack of work experience. So, if you want to wow your employer with your knowledge and practical experience and get the advantage you need, start finding out about Work Experience opportunities.

  • Sources of Information

    BIS - Advanced Manufacturing – Building Britain’s Future July 2009
    Semta - Sector Skills Assessment for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Wales Report December 2010
    Semta - Skills and the future of Advanced Manufacturing – A summary of the SSC Advanced Manufacturing Cluster December 2009
    Sector Skills Assessment for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies UK Report December 2010
    Semta Bioscience labour market survey 2009 and Bioscience Sector skill Assessment 2009
    Skills for Jobs: Today and Tomorrow The national Strategic Skills Audit for Wales 2011 UKCES
    Working Futures 2007-2017 UKES December 2008
    What Do Graduates Do? 2010 HECSU/AGCAS
    BIS - Advanced Manufacturing paper 2009
    Semta Labour Market Intelligence Factsheets – Semta Scope 2010
    Statistics for Wales Statistical Bulletin 28th July 2011 - Workplace employment by industry in Wales 2001 – 2009
Did you know Icon

Did you know?

Advanced Materials and Manufacturing employs 43,900 people in Wales, the largest amount being employed within Automotive and Aerospace industries.

Advanced Materials and Manufacturing employees earn 27% more than those employed in more traditional areas of manufacturing.

45% of those employed in Advanced Materials and Manufacturing in Wales holds Level 4 (or higher) qualifications.

92% of people within Advanced Materials and Manufacturing work full time

81% of Advanced Materials and Manufacturing businesses in Wales employ fewer than 10 people and are considered ‘micro-sized’.

LMI Tips


Get as much work experience as you can! It’s one of the top 3 reasons people don’t get employed, so get the advantage!

The Manufacturing Industry

– North Wales

The Manufacturing Industry 

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