Updated Salary Expectations for in Demand Disciplines across the North West

As the UK moves closer to a working world without furlough, the North West’s recruitment industry’s eyes are firmly focused on how our region’s employers will react come October, to what can only be described as a full, final, reopening of our economy back to a pre-pandemic state.

KPJ Group are proud of our ongoing client support as we enter a post-pandemic environment, and part of that support is delivered through a wide understanding of remuneration across our specialist sectors. This foundational salary knowledge powers both our client relationships and candidate handling, as it gives us the tools to create exactly the right monetary expectations for all parties.

However, money in the context of career building or company growth is only one part of the recruitment puzzle. Recruitment is, after all, a business built on trust. We leverage our wider industry knowledge to provide the sort of context led, objective, decision making to our recruitment stakeholders that guarantees a relationship built on trust. We want our client’s to understand that salary guides are just that – guides that set the right platform for candidates to develop their careers and companies to ensure the best talent is drawn to them.


A snapshot of the UK as we enter a post-pandemic environment

The median UK salary is £31,461 and the mean UK salary is £36,834 per year (source).

It’s worth noting that 2021 has been a year of significant wage growth, however this is skewed in most sectors to mitigate the loss of wage growth last year (and in some sectors significant pay cuts) due to COVID-19 and the hit to national GDP, plus the introduction of furlough. Other mitigating factors are the record numbers of vacancies currently being advertised, which in some key industries means wages are rising faster than normal.

For example:

  • In manufacturing, April to June 2020 showed -5% wage growth, but as of December to February 2021 it was at 1.8%. Clients should be acutely aware that post-pandemic contracting, especially in manufacturing and industrial sectors, should not mean stymied wage capping – it will manifest as candidates are expecting to work for improving salaries. This is especially apparent in logistics, retail and hospitality, where employers are upping salaries to far above pre-pandemic levels to attract talent.


Industrial & Manufacturing


Most in-demand disciplines Range Typical
HGV Driver    £24,000 – £36,000 £32,000
Forklift Truck Driver £21,000 – £27,000 £25,000
Production Operative £18,500 – £22,500 £19,500
Machine Operator £20,000 – £24,000 £22,500
Warehouse Operative £19,000 – £24,000 £21,000


The future of the industry

With the ongoing pressure of skills shortages and Brexit continuing to play havoc with just-in-time supply chains and skilled and unskilled labour from the continent, wage power is firmly in the hands of candidates. Skilled applicants are in short supply, and with many talented people exiting the industry due to retirement and a slower than expected uptake in apprenticeships, the future of the manufacturing and industrial sector is unknown – however, wages are sure to increase to draw more people into the sector.



Trades & Engineering

Most in-demand disciplines Range Typical
Welder / Fabricator £28,000 – £33,000 £31,000
Electrical Maintenance Engineer £33,000 – £46,000 £41,000
CNC Machinist £26,000 – £33,000 £30,000
CAD Technician £28,000 – £33,000 £32,000
Mechanical Maintenance Engineer £28,000 – £40,000 £37,000


The future of the industry

The future of engineering parallels that of manufacturing, warehousing, trades and logistics – the ongoing attitudinal issues surrounding the industry from younger workers and apprentices will continue to make themselves felt. However, the saving grace of the industry lies in tech – how both the government invests in the engineering sector through a focus on tech (especially in regards to sustainability and the 6 R’s), and how private tech and engineering companies continue to innovate in the technical and hybrid tech space.



Office Services

Most in-demand disciplines Range Typical
Business Development £35,000 – £45,000 £38,000
Outbound Sales £25,000 – £33,000 £27,000
Finance Manager £30,000 – £40,000 £27,000
Accounts Assistant £22,000 – £25,000 £23,000
Inbound Sales £21,000 – £25,000 £24,000


The future of the industry

A lot of office based jobs weathered the storm of COVID-19 (thanks to rapid digital solutions to remote working), however the last 18-months have also seen businesses merging office job roles and making redundancies to reduce costs, which is commonly seen during recessions. The biggest hurdle facing employers – and wage spends – is the legacy of remote work, and how the Great Resignation is being fuelled by a complete upending of working cultures within office-based roles. How employers retain talent – either through improved salary or more holistic management of expectations, benefits and work life balance – remains to be seen, but the power, again, is in the hands of the candidates.

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