The Post-Industrial Economy

The UK is in an era broadly known as the post-industrial era. This means that the manufacturing industry is in decline while tertiary and quaternary sectors are growing. By 2021, 80% of employment in the UK was in the tertiary and quaternary sectors, with just 18% in manufacturing and 2% in primary sectors.

Developing Sectors

Development of IT (Information Technology)

  • Approximately 1.3 million people work in the IT sector in the UK.
  • The sector is worth around £58 billion a year.
  • In 2018, the UK had the largest mobile device market in Europe, worth £14 billion a year.
  • UK companies are increasingly seeking data centres and IT assistance in the UK, close to their offices – a huge growth area for the UK.
  • Cybersecurity is growing as cyber threats have continued to rise, currently worth £2.8 billion a year.

Services Industries Growth

  • Almost 85% of the UK’s economy in 2023 was accounted for by service industries. The UK earns revenue by exporting services such as education and tourism, and is the second-largest exporter of services in the world.
  • Retail and wholesale alone accounts for 14% of total employment in the UK, while health and social care accounts for 13%.
  • London’s economic output is 93% services industries.

Finance

This sector includes banks, accountants, financial planning, insurance and investments. The UK is a world leader in financial services, with the sector accounting for 10% of the country’s GDP.

Science Parks

  • Science parks hire recent university graduates with scientific and technical knowledge.
  • Their sites are usually pleasant places to work, with greenery and plenty of parking, and are often linked to a nearby university. There are 130 science parks in the UK, employing 120,000 people.

Research and Development (R&D)

  • Research is encouraged by the government, especially as sustainability goals become a larger part of UK government policies.
  • Research is conducted through councils such as the Medical Research Council, universities, and organisations like the UK Space Agency.
  • More than 100,000 highly qualified people work in the sector, which is worth £13 billion.

Business Parks

  • Business parks are areas of land occupied by many businesses, typically located on the urban fringe.

These parks enable businesses to collaborate and work with each other, helping the flow of money continue. They keep businesses out of city centres and into less congested areas, and are popular centres of employment.

Key Terms

TermDefinition
Primary SectorGrowth and extraction of raw materials (farming, forestry, mining).
Secondary SectorProcessing materials to produce a finished product/manufacturing (furniture, technology manufacture, clothing production).
Tertiary SectorProviding a service that people pay for (hospitality, healthcare, teaching).
Quaternary SectorProvision of highly specialist advice or information (scientists, consultancy, creative industries). This sector often involves intellectual services and knowledge-based activities, such as research and development, information technology and financial consulting.