Too many managers?

May 10 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Can't find a plumber or electrician when you need one? Now we know why, as new figures reveal that Britain now has more senior managers than it does skilled tradespeople.

A new analysis of the Labour Force Survey to February 2005 by the GMB union claims that there are 4,085,000 managers and senior officials in Britain, representing nearly 15 per cent of the workforce.

The figures mean that almost one in seven of the workforce is classified as a 'senior manager' or ' senior official', making them the largest single occupational group in the economy.

Managers also outnumber skilled trades occupations that now comprise 3,113,000 or 11.3 per cent of the total workforce.

A further 3,392,000 workers or 12.4 per cent of the total workforce are in professional occupations and the 3,797,000 or 13.8 per cent are in associate professional and technical occupations.

The figures pay testimony to the huge structural changes that have occurred in the UK economy. In 1981 there were 2,700,000 senior managers in Britain, 11.9 per cent of the workforce. In contrast, skilled manual workers numbered 3,998,800 or 17.5 per cent of the workforce.

By far the most managed sector of the economy is the City of London, where almost one in three male workers is a senior manager. For the overall workforce in the City more than a quarter (26.5 per cent) are senior managers.

Paul Kenny, GMB Acting General Secretary, said, "There has been a perception on the shop floor that the number of 'generals' has increased as the number of shop floor workers has been cut.

"This analysis bears out this perception. Boards of directors who, in the coming months, will be looking to cut back on costs need to address themselves to this inflation in the number of senior managers and in the rising cost of meeting their salaries and perks.

"It cannot be right that one in seven workers is now a senior manager. There is plenty of scope for cutting out several tiers of top-heavy management."