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Scottish Manufacturing

Here is an overview of Scottish Manufacturing which I believe was prepared in 2009.


The UK has the world's largest aerospace industry outside the USA.

With a turnover of more than £22 billion in 2005, it supports a highly skilled workforce of over 276,000. Aerospace is the second largest contributor to the UK economy after pharmaceuticals. The UK has around 13% of the world market.

With around 10% of the UK aerospace industry in Scotland, there are 150 companies in the civil aerospace and defence equipment industries. These employ over 30,000 people.

Aerospace accounts for 3-4% of manufacturing as a whole. There are three main parts of the industry in Scotland:

  • Maintenance, repair and overhaul. The fastest growing part of the industry in Scotland, with growth concentrated in the west of Scotland.

  • Manufacture and design. The most widely distributed part of the industry in Scotland

  • Avionics. The electronic equipment that goes on to aircraft and related products. This is the most technically advanced part of the industry.

Chemicals and pharmaceuticals

  • The Scottish chemicals manufacturing sector has an annual output in excess of £3.1 billion

  • Over 16,000 people are employed directly.

  • Over 60% of products manufactured in Scotland are exported.

  • World scale companies such as AstraZeneca, Akzo Nobel, Avecia, Innovene, Ciba, Exxon, GlaxoSmithKline, Rhodia and Syngenta have Scottish operations.

  • Chemical exports account for 12% of manufacturing exports in Scotland (£1.7b), second only to the electronics industry.

  • Grangemouth represents 33% of the Scottish chemicals industry in turnover terms.


  • More than 1000 companies that design, develop or supply electronic products or services are located in Scotland.

  • Over 45,000 people are employed directly and approximately 29,000 indirectly.

  • Electronics contributes 14% to Scotland’s GDP.

  • Scotland makes 28% of Europe’s PCs; more than 7% of the world’s PCs; and 29% of Europe’s notebooks.

  • Electronics accounts for 12% of Scotland’s total manufacturing employment and for more than half of Scottish exports.

  • The biggest export products are PCs and peripherals such as printers.

Food and drink

  • Today Scotland employs 122,000 people in the food and drink processing sector and its associated supply chain, which generates £7.57 billion in sales.

  • A further £2 billion comes from agriculture, aquaculture and fish catching.

  • Food and drink is the largest employer within Scottish manufacturing and accounts for more than a quarter of manufacturing exports.

  • Scottish farmers and fishermen provide more than one third of our raw materials and are major suppliers to the UK industry.

  • £3.65 billion worth of food and drink were exported in 2005.

Life sciences

  • There are over 590 organisations in Scotland's life sciences community - employing over 29,500 people.

  • Scotland is home to 15% of the UK's life sciences companies.

  • Over 50 academic institutions and 80 companies are engaged in drug discovery.

  • There are more than 100 Scottish-based medical devices companies.

  • Scottish researchers work in many areas, from developing new therapies for cancer and heart disease, through to understanding the causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

Paints, inks and other coatings

Note: the statistics in this section are for the UK as a whole rather than Scotland alone.

  • Some 450 companies employ around 20,000 people

  • Combined sales turnover is over £2.2 billion with exports of £400 millions.

  • Coatings are produced for a variety of uses, including the automotive sector, marine, wood finishing, DIY paints, packaging, coatings for plastics, and, in the case of printing inks, newspapers.

  • The industry is changing, with the introduction of modern manufacturing systems, and a strong emphasis on customer service.

  • Five of the largest manufacturers of coatings in Europe are based in Britain.

  • The coatings industry comprises a handful of large multinational companies and hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises.

  • Formulations are increasingly sophisticated - protecting, beautifying, insulating, reflecting light etc.

  • 100 tonnes of ink is used each day for printing newspapers

  • A jumbo jet needs 2 tonnes of paint.


Scotland’s textile sector is a highly technical industry in a competitive global market. The industry has an annual turnover of £1,084 million. In recent years the textile and clothing industry has seen continuous change. Expertise in design, production and innovation underpin recent success.

  • There are currently 450 textile companies in Scotland, directly employing over 17,000 people.  

  • After several decades of steady decline in employment numbers, this is now slowing.

  • Productivity has increased 12% in the last five years. It remains lower than other manufacturing industries, but the gap is narrowing.

  • A higher proportion of the workforce is now employed in highly skilled jobs, in areas such as design and product development.

  • 5.7% of Scottish manufacturing jobs are in the textiles sector.

  • In the last five years, the proportion of the workforce employed in non-manufacturing jobs has risen from 15% to 32 % - with managerial and professional occupations accounting for 13% of jobs.

  • Average wages in the textile sector remain below the Scottish average, but the gap has decreased significantly as low skill jobs move offshore.

You can learn more about these industries at Scottish Enterprise

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