UK SME Manufacturing Firms Are in the Shadows: Here’s Why


Manufacturing has been the beating heart of the UK for two centuries, and yet there is a serious imbalance in the industry itself. The growth of the manufacturing industry has been immense for many years, but SME manufacturing businesses are being left behind – and it’s not because they aren’t good enough.

There are plenty of world-famous, UK-born manufacturing brands that are easily recognisable for their sheer size and their brand name, but what about the small and middle-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are making manufacturing waves? SME manufacturing businesses play an important role in the UK’s manufacturing industry, but these are the invisible businesses. Yet these smaller-scale manufacturers play a crucial role in supporting local communities – which is why recognition matters.

A Silent Voice in Manufacturing

With larger manufacturing companies dominating the industry, SMEs in the UK find it a huge challenge to be heard. Many of the manufacturing SMEs in the UK are family-built businesses that have been slowly growing over generations. These businesses are quiet powerhouses, solid in the industry but never becoming household names in the way Unilever or GlaxoSmithKline have done. These are the same SMEs that continue no matter what struggle is ahead of them, including the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Manufacturing SMEs in the UK are a solid piece of the industry as they continue to provide opportunities to the communities they work in. They have produced and distributed supplies that mattered in the local area and stayed behind the scenes while other public bodies like the NHS were in the public eye. The problem with these silent businesses is that there is a huge lack of understanding and awareness by surrounding communities of how valuable they truly are.

Although UK manufacturing SMEs are continuing to make valuable contributions to the industry, they often lack recognition and don’t have the same public clout as the giants. This often means that smaller manufacturing companies are not on the radar of the government when it comes to financial and political support – and it also has a negative impact on manufacturing recruitment.

When graduates and younger people are unaware of the secure, well-paid careers available to them in manufacturing, the talent pool is impacted. Companies are working harder to find the candidates they need, and it becomes a vicious circle of insufficient supply but plenty of demand for talent.

UK SME Manufacturing: Is It for You?

SME manufacturing businesses bring as much economic and community value as their larger counterparts. The contribution locally is significant and manufacturing recruitment is being driven by these businesses that provide secure jobs that remain well-paid and competitive. Those who decide to take up careers in UK manufacturing SMEs are choosing companies that will know them by their name.

However, candidates are less likely to get lost among the numbers with SMEs, and plenty of opportunities for career development are available. These smaller manufacturers are also often very agile and innovative, and candidates have the chance to make a real impact in their workplace.

The UK needs the priceless contributions of SME manufacturing. Without it, so many industries wouldn’t be able to continue, and so while right now there isn’t enough credit given to these businesses, there is time to make a change.


Despite the lack of recognition for UK manufacturing SMEs and the dire support from the Government, these are businesses that have remained steadfast no matter what. When there is more public acknowledgement and more credit given to businesses in this sector, there will be a better understanding of all the good they are doing.

As specialists in manufacturing recruitment, CV Consulting works with a network that extends across the UK to help you find the perfect manufacturing job. We are as dedicated to helping SME manufacturers to secure the best talent as helping manufacturing professionals find the best opportunities. Get in touch with our team today to learn more!