The geography of the UK’s creative and high–tech economies

Hasan Bakhshi, John Davies, Alan Freeman and Peter Higgs
Publication date: 
26 January 2015

This report is the first systematic analysis of employment in the UK’s creative and high-tech economies. It analyses their size, growth and distribution across the country.

Key Findings

  • The UK’s creative economy had 2.6 million jobs in 2013, consisting of 1.7 million jobs in the creative industries (890,000 in creative occupations and 818,000 working in other roles) and 907,000 jobs in creative occupations outside of the creative industries.
  • The UK’s high–tech economy had 3.2 million jobs in 2013, 2.4 million of which were jobs in high–tech industries (825,000 in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) occupations and 1.6 million in other roles) and 806,000 jobs in STEM occupations outside of the high–tech industries.
  • Employment in the creative economy grew on average over three times faster than the workforce as a whole (4.3 per cent per annum (p.a.) vs 1.2 per cent p.a.) between 2011 and 2013.
  • Employment in the high–tech economy also grew faster than the workforce over this period (2.1 per cent p.a. vs 1.2 per cent p.a.).
  • The creative economy is particularly concentrated in London and the South East which together account for 43 per cent of the UK’s creative economy workforce. By contrast, 31 per cent of high-tech economy employment and 28 per cent of the UK’s workforce is located in this area.

The UK’s economic future depends on the performance of its creative and high-tech industries. These are sectors where the UK is recognised as a world leader. They are innovative, fast growing, and offer jobs that are less likely to be automated, providing sustainable future employment.

In The geography of the UK’s creative and high-tech economies, Nesta maps for the first time the geography of the creative economy according to the official classification, and the high-tech economy. The report covers the creative and high-tech economies’ size, segmentation, growth and geographic distribution around the country.

The report shows that the creative and high-tech economy are large and rapidly expanding employers, with creative economy employment growing particularly swiftly. It finds that the creative economy is unevenly distributed around the country, and as a result calls for government policy to better support creative clusters across the UK.