Manufacturing, processing and logistics

Almost every object you see has been manufactured or processed in some way, which is why the processing and manufacturing industry is so important. It deals with producing things on an industrial scale, which keeps all the other industries supplied with the materials needed to do their job.

After all, construction firms couldn’t build without bricks and concrete, supermarkets wouldn’t be able to stock their shelves without mass-produced and packaged food, doctors couldn’t treat people without pharmaceuticals, cars wouldn’t run without petrol—you get the idea.

Some of the main manufacturing industries covered include textiles, food, furniture, glass, metals and printing. You could be doing anything, from operating huge machines in a factory to working with hand tools in a small workshop.

There are roles to suit different strengths—if you’re good with details, then you could check over products for flaws; if you’re mechanically minded, you could be responsible for maintaining the machines used in production.

Logistics plays a key role in all of this by making sure the right amount of raw materials shows up at the right time, and that the manufactured goods are properly stored until distribution. The ultimate goal of any logistics operation is to move a product from supplier to customer—it deals with a range of functions, such as inventory management, warehousing, distribution, transport and customer service.

Globalisation has changed the manufacturing industry in the UK. Goods are increasingly made overseas where costs are much lower. To compete, the UK has to focus on being as hi-tech, efficient and productive as possible. That means there’s a demand for skilled workers, not just production line robots.

At a glance

  • An apprenticeship in the manufacturing sector could see you working in a career in textiles, glass, ceramics, print and paper, metals, among others
  • One in 12 working people work in logistics—2.3 million people spanning around 196,000 companies
  • Over 310,000 people are employed in the food and drink manufacturing and processing industry in England


  • Be physically fit
  • Follow instructions well
  • Work as part of a team and on your own
  • Have good numeracy skills
  • Learn how to operate complex machinery
  • Be aware of health and safety issues
  • Have good timekeeping and organisational skills
  • Be able to work quickly
  • Concentrate for long periods, even when doing repetitive tasks

Useful contacts

Cogent—Strategic body for skills in the science industries

The National Skills Academy for Food & Drink—Workforce training for the UK’s food and drink manufacturing and processing industry

Proskills UK—Represents industries in the process and manufacturing sector

Skills for Logistics—Representing the UK logistics sector

Semta—Science, Engineering, Manufacturing and Technologies Alliance

Manufacturing, processing and logistics

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