Making Scotland’s Future: a vision for manufacturing

Information on a programme of work to strengthen Scotland’s manufacturing sector

The manufacturing sector in Scotland

The Scottish manufacturing sector is broad and diverse, with companies of every size and shape.  The sector combines cutting edge technology with heritage and craft, making everything from spirits and satellites to textiles and heat pumps.

We have well known strengths in areas such as drinks manufacture, with whisky still being a major export, but people may not be so aware of more recent strides in areas like satellite production, aquaculture and life sciences.  In days gone by, manufacturing tended to be a lot more visible, with shipyards and thread-works, for example, dominating whole cities and neighbourhoods.  Nowadays, facilities tend to be A LOT more discrete, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still A LOT going on – just in different places and in a different manner than our industrial history has taught us to expect.

Indeed, manufacturing continues to be a vital part of Scotland’s modern economy. 

It accounts for over half of Scotland’s international exports. Furthermore, according to the Quarterly National Accounts for Scotland, manufacturing contributed £16.8 billion in GVA to Scotland’s economy in 2022.​​​​​​​

The Scottish Government is committed to promoting Equalities and Wellbeing in manufacturing.  For example, we commissioned CeeD and Flexibility Works to identify, capture and share examples of flexible working within the manufacturing sector, specifically in frontline (non-office) roles.  The resulting suite of video case studies can be viewed on the CeeD website

We are also working to raise the profile of careers in manufacturing from early years to tertiary education.  Together with Education Scotland, we arranged an event for teachers in March 2024.  The response was encouraging and we hope to build on this momentum in the months ahead. 

Manufacturing is also a high-wage, high productivity sector.  The sector employs 173,000 people, with a GVA per head of £80,593 compared to £53,357 for Scotland as a whole, and an annual average pay of £37,838, compared to £33,385 across all industries. According to the UK Innovation Survey 2021, 56.3% of Scottish Manufacturing businesses were innovation active in the last three years – compared to a rate of 39.0% more generally across the Scottish business base

You can read more about the statistical profile of the sector here:

Industry Profiles - Scottish Annual Business Statistics 2021 - (

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