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The importance of science, engineering and technology workers to the UK

Science, engineering and technology (SET) workers are vitally important to UK innovation and the economy. A report by the Royal Academy of Engineers which features analysis by the Big Innovation Centre, sets out the evidence base on this key group of workers. The interactive chart above summarises some key indicators on SET workers, showing their distribution in the UK economy, as well as a range of historical and forecast employment and output growth figures.

What does the chart tell us about this group?

• SET workers are important throughout the economy: It is not just in the manufacturing sector where we find SET workers. They are also a key group in services industries such as media and publishing, computing and telecommunications, and business services such as design, accountancy and finance.

• We should expect a growing demand for SET workers: Most of the key sectors employing large numbers of SET workers are forecast to expand their employment over the next decade or so.

• SET workers will increasingly be employed by service businesses: The sector with the largest growth in terms of SET employment is likely to be business services. In contrast, the total number of SET workers employed in manufacturing is likely to fall. The sectoral distribution of this group is therefore going to shift away from manufacturing and towards advanced business services.

• There will still be demand from manufacturing for SET workers: Whilst the overall number of SET workers in the manufacturing sector is expected to fall, the need to replaced retiring SET workers in the sector means there will still be many jobs available in manufacturing for this group.

• All of the sectors that SET workers are concentrated in are expected to grow in terms of economic output over the next decade or so: This is for a variety of reasons: Construction is expected to rebound from its historically low post-recession level, manufacturing output is expected to grow as continued productivity increases make it possible to produce ever larger quantities of output with fewer workers, and business services will grow as it continues to become a key and world-leading sector in the UK

How to read the chart:

• The size of each bubble represents the number of SET workers employed in each sector in 2009

• A red bubble indicates that SET workers are concentrated in that sector to a greater extent than in the economy as a whole, otherwise the bubble is blue.

• Using the tabs on each axis you can select a variety of variables detailing forecast and historical output and employment growth, all measured in terms of percentage change per annum.

Chart sources:

Employment and output historical and forecasts: UKCES Working Futures 2010-2020 and ONS Blue Book

Numbers of SET workers employed by sector and concentration: ONS Labour Force Survey for 2009, Business Register and Employment Survey 2009