The specialist workforce that sustains Essex’s growing high-technology cluster

Cambridge Essex UK High Technology Cluster

When high-technology companies consider new locations for expansion projects, access to a skilled specialist workforce is a key consideration

Essex UK: a specialist high-technology manufacturing workforceIn Essex, growing businesses are finding that they can access a high-quality local workforce, in addition to large numbers of skilled technology workers living in the commutable cities of Cambridge and London.

Access to the combined labour forces of Essex, Cambridge and London…

Essex itself is home to 43,500 skilled manufacturing workers [1], making it one of southern England’s foremost advanced manufacturing locations. For businesses, this local workforce is complemented by the large –scale labour forces of Cambridge – home to more than 50,000 tech workers [2] – and London – home to almost 200,000 tech workers. [3] From each of these leading ‘tech hub’ cities, key Essex business locations including Harlow Enterprise Zone can be accessed in less than 1 hour. [4]

A specialist ‘advanced electronics’ labour force…

Essex is home to a cluster of leading businesses in the advanced electronics sector, including BAE Systems, Raytheon, Honeywell, Arrow Electronics and Finmeccanica. This specialism is reflected in the size of the county’s electronics workforce. In key ‘high-technology’ SIC categories including ‘manufacturing of electronics components and boards’ (C261), Essex has a significantly larger workforce than competitor locations in the East of England, including Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

Combined with low wage costs…

The availability of skilled workers in Essex is complemented by low wage costs that ensure the county’s competitiveness as a high-technology business location. Companies locating in Essex can benefit from significant average wage cost savings versus London, Cambridge and alternative technology locations in southern England. And, surprisingly for a technology cluster so close to London, average wages are actually 2% lower than the UK average. [1]

Essex: Average Wage Costs

With a well-established skills pipeline…

An available and affordable workforce is essential for expanding high-technology businesses. But so is a continuous ‘pipeline’ of skilled workers, delivered by specialist education institutions. In Essex, further education colleges including PROCAT (Prospects College of Advanced Technology) and the Sir Charles Kao UTC (University Technical College) work in close partnership with local companies to deliver workers with the specific high-technology skills they require. And the close proximity of world-class universities in Cambridge, London and Essex itself ensures access to the very best technology graduates, across disciplines including ICT and electronics.

Sustaining a growing high-technology sector…

International high-technology businesses including Raytheon and Arrow Electronics are expanding in Essex UK, and the county’s skilled workforce has been a key consideration in each of those companies’ location decisions. Essex’s distinctive combination of a large, affordable technology labour force, and a specialist skills pipeline, means that the county is well positioned to welcome many more leading high-technology companies.


Contact INVEST Essex to find out more about the Cambridge-Essex UK High-Technology Cluster.

[1] ONS Nomis
[2] Cambridge Network:
[3] Stack Overflow: London & Partners, 2015:
[4] Google Maps, 2015

Simon Papworth
Simon Papworth

Inward Investment Manager (High-Technology Cluster)

+44 (0) 7515 199255


Simon has worked in inward investment for the last four years, building a wide network of trusted business connections, working on a variety of successful projects in the advanced manufacturing sector. Prior to this, Simon spent 7 years advising business owners and entrepreneurs, with a focus on bringing innovative products to market.