Northern Ireland

NI manufacturing: employment growth predicted over next 10 years

Worker welding metal in workshop with sparks Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The manufacturing industry research coincided with a number of significant job loss announcements over the past few days

Manufacturing employment in Northern Ireland is likely to grow over the next decade, the Ulster University economic policy centre has forecast.

The projection is included in a 'skills barometer' it produced for Stormont's Department for Employment and Learning.

Significant manufacturing job losses were announced over the last few days, including a Michelin factory closure.

However, the centre expects the sector to add between 8,000 and 14,000 jobs by 2025.

'Skills shortages'

Under the 'high growth' scenario, that would mean manufacturing jobs increasing by 16%.

By contrast jobs in the sector fell by 21% between 1997 and 2007.

The centre said growth will typically come in higher value manufacturing "driven by an increase in foreign direct investment".

The report also looks at where there are likely to be skills shortages under the high growth scenario.

It points to a "significant undersupply" of skilled graduates in engineering, maths, computer science and physical sciences.

It also forecasts a significant shortage of non-graduates with engineering, manufacturing and science skills.

The report cautions that a skills oversupply issue could arise if there is weak economic growth

'Work experience'

However, it said that outcome is preferred to a shortage of skills which could constrain economic growth and result in higher levels of unemployment.

An oversupply is forecast of graduates with qualifications in psychology and social work.

The report makes a number of policy recommendations, including a greater focus on employability skills and more work experience for undergraduates.

It also suggests that further education colleges provide too wide a range of services.

It states that they could focus on "mid to high-level skills" with other providers delivering low-level skills training.

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