Manufacturing: Spotlight in Yorkshire – April 2021

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Solid performance in the manufacturing sector is a crucially important for the economic recovery in Yorkshire.

The manufacturing sector in Yorkshire is regarded as an integral economic activity in the region as well as across the UK, providing countless jobs and stimulating development in key areas such as trade, transport, communication, education and technology.

Research from Siemens Financial Services (SFS) estimates that the manufacturing sector in Yorkshire is just over 15 per cent of the region’s total economic output with over 12,000 manufacturers operating in the area.

Richard Topliss, Chairman of NatWest North Regional Board, said: “After January's lockdown-induced downturn, the Yorkshire & Humber private sector showed a slight recovery in February, posting a renewed expansion in activity. Although growth was only modest overall, the region remained one of the strongest performers in the UK.”

“Firms are now beginning to look beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and are planning for an economic recovery expected later this year.”


Sector activity

Based on the NatWest Yorkshire & Humber PMI sector specialisation data, we can breakdown manufacturing to show which sectors have a greater economic footprint than others, and also how the sector is performing in terms of economic activity:

Growing sectors:

  1. Machinery & Equipment **
  2. Food & Drink **
  3. Metals ***

Declining sectors:

  1. Textiles & Clothing ***
  2. Wood & Paper **
  3. Transport Equipment *

Number of * indicates the size of sector in relation to others in the region



Yorkshire & Humber Export Climate Index is an indicator for the economic health of the region’s export markets and the latest reading saw a modest improvement in export conditions faced by businesses.

The upturn was primarily driven by sharp activity expansion in the US and the Netherlands.

Demand for skills

Recruitment agencies in the region reported encountering skills shortages in the following areas:

  • Drivers including FLT
  • Machine Operators
  • Warehouse Operative


Stafflex’s perspective

Gill North, Industrial manager at Stafflex commented: “There are signs of improvement albeit very slow in the manufacturing sector following a number of national lockdowns over the last 12 months.”

“Employers are keen to recruit more local candidates for peace of mind that they will be able travel to work but we’re finding that candidates are reluctant to travel far without an increase to their wages. As a response to this some manufacturers are bucking the trend and offering higher salaries to attract a better calibre of candidates.”

“We are also seeing manufacturers experiencing issues with their supply chain’s which has a knock-on effect on logistical operations such as waiting for shipment imports from overseas countries like China.


Would you like to speak to us?

If you would like to discuss any of the points or issues raised in this article, please contact our industrial manager, Gill North on 01484 351010 or at