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Scotland's engineering facts

KCP Environmental Services. Image shows Company Founder Wendy Pring at KCP's Cumnock HQ.

Engineering sector in Scotland

Latest stats and facts on Scotland's engineering industry. Published February 2021.

Industry profile

Key application markets for Scotland's engineering sector include oil and gas, transportation, aerospace, defence and marine.

Leading firms include:

  • Engineering companies, such as The Weir Group, SPX Clyde Union and Doosan Babcock
  • Aerospace manufacturing and MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) companies, such as Rolls-Royce, Spirit AeroSystems, GE Aviation, Collins Aerospace, Woodward, Teledyne and Standard Aero (formerly Vector Aerospace)
  • Defence companies such as (Leonardo MW, Thales, Raytheon and BAE Systems
  • A growing range of world-leading niche players in the space industry, such as AAC Clyde Space, Spire Global, STAR-Dundee, Skyrora and Celestia UK


Ken Scott looking at a computer screen with a colleague at Alexander Dennis Buses

More recently, Scotland has been successful in attracting Talgo, a major Spanish manufacturer of rail rolling stock. The company is planning to open a major manufacturing operation in Fife. This will provide opportunities for many in the engineering supply chain.

Energy transition

Scotland’s engineering sector will have a key role in the transition to more sustainable and low carbon forms of energy supply and transport. Many of the capabilities and skills needed to support the development of the emerging supply chain are present in the existing sector players. For example, at Mitsubishi’s Scottish plant, work is ongoing to increase the production of domestic heat pumps. The engineering sector is also active in the development of a rail sector cluster to advance low carbon methods of drive power.

Scottish engineering stats

15,585 companies

8.7% of Scotland's total companies (2020)

126,000 employment

4.8% of Scotland's total employment (2019)

£8.6bn GVA

6.0% of Scotland's GVA (2018)

£6.0bn exports

17.7% of Scotland's total international exports (2018)

£613m R&D

43.5% of Scotland's BERD (2018)

Engineer from Alexander Dennis Buses at work

Manufacturing excellence

The sector benefits from the local presence of the Advanced Forming Research Centre and the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre, which is part of the UK High Value Manufacturing Catapult. It also benefits from links to the various research centres across the country, including the Spirit AeroSystems Aerospace Innovation Centre focusing on large scale composite manufacturing R&D.

The Advanced Forming Research Centre and the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre are key components of the developing National Manufacturing Institute Scotland.

The institute itself will sit at the heart of the planned Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District which represents a £150 million investment in the future of manufacturing in Scotland, attracting ambitious companies both locally and internationally.

The development of the sector is championed through an industry leadership group and trade bodies such as Scottish Engineering, ADS Scotland and the Scottish Maritime Cluster.

Company insight

Engineering* companies surveyed between August and December 2020
Biggest challenges
  • 72% impact of Covid-19
  • 31% accessing finance and investment
Biggest opportunities
  • 43% developing new products/services
  • 33% international opportunities

*using technology and engineering as closest available reported proxy

KCP Environmental Services. Image shows Company Founder Wendy Pring at KCP's Cumnock HQ.

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