Good work in the manufacturing and construction sectors in Europe - RSA

Good work in the manufacturing and construction sectors in Europe


  • Work and employment

In this paper we consider how future of work trends are playing out in the in manufacturing and construction sectors across Europe, including in the context of Covid-19. These sectors are at the forefront of many issues, including automation and the green jobs revolution.

Key findings

  1. Manufacturing employment has seen modest growth across Europe since 2011. This was driven by high value sectors such as motor vehicles and pharmaceuticals. However, some manufacturing sub-sectors have experienced a decline, particularly those with a higher automation risk and those related to clothing and wearing apparel.
  2. Construction employment has only experienced a slight decline since 2011 but remains 16 percent below its 2008 levels. Construction has a lower automation risk than most manufacturing sub-sectors as activities are less repetitive and carried out in less predictable environments.
  3. There are signs that the pandemic has accelerated the pace of technological change in both sectors, as social distancing and other protective measures have increased the cost of labour relative to machines.
  4. However, manufacturing and construction could also experience strong employment growth post-pandemic as many countries look to invest in green jobs as part of their economic recovery strategy.
  5. There is need for new approaches to skills, training and lifelong learning to help futureproof workers. Some best practice can be found across manufacturing and construction. Businesses should also explore the potential of new innovations such as digital badges and digital career coaching platforms.

Download the paper (PDF, 802 KB)

pdf 802.9 KB


Picture of Fabian Wallace-Stephens
Senior Researcher, Economy, Enterprise and Manufacturing

Picture of Emma Morgante

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