Are the job roles for women finally changing in the manufacturing industry?

Before we can talk about the roles women take on in the manufacturing industry, we must take a
look at the current challenges that the manufacturing industry continues to face in the UK.

There are currently 1.1 million vacancies in the UK and as of February 2023, manufacturing
employers make up 76,000 of those live vacancies. The manufacturing industry employs over 2.7
million with an average earning of £32,500, but women still only represent 15% of the workforce.
Why is this still such a problem?

Although the UK has attempted to shift the gender bias in manufacturing, the education sector is
still not managing to engage with young people and get more girls to study STEM subjects. According
to most of the data available, the UK is still lagging behind globally but is similar to other European
countries with only 26% of women and girls taking STEM subjects at school and university.

Organisations like Women in Rail are driving the diversity conversation with regional and national
collaborative events running throughout the year, encouraging and engaging in the Rail networks
and supporting women to get into the industry. In February this year, Cambridge University
launched an initiative to encourage more diversity and inclusivity in the manufacturing sector
working with The IfM, Dept of Business, Energy and Industrial Sector and other industry and
academic partners.
This initiative hopes to raise the profile of women in traditional shop floor manufacturing jobs,
through to the less traditional roles women take on in the sector.

Now the industry is struggling to recruit, the roles women can train for are becoming far more wide-
ranging, with women taking on welding and machinist positions. Women are being encouraged to
take up Project Management contracts, which offer more flexibility around caregiving and also take
women into a better pay bracket. Some of the more traditional textile and fashion manufacturers
still seem to be able to attract women into the workplace, there may be things these industries can
share across the sector to help other manufacturers encourage more women to apply for their roles.
With the additional support the government is providing to childcare from September 2025, women
will be able to look at working more hours and the manufacturing industry should be looking to
capitalise on the opportunities this will create.

If you are an employer who needs help in filling jobs in the manufacturing sector, give us a call