Since the 2008 recession, one of the most notable labour market trends in Britain has been the huge growth in a couple of big clusters of industries, which have been labelled “The Knowing Economy” and “The Sorting Economy”.
The Knowing Economy tends to include highly skilled, analytical, and interpersonal jobs in sectors such as professional services, creative, and digital. The Sorting Economy, on the other hand, which includes things like logistics, e-commerce, business services, and call centres, tends to employ much lower level, processing and physical skills.
The chart below shows just how much these sectors have been growing since 2010, with the Knowing Economy (Digital, Professional services and Creative) having added 707,000 new jobs, and the Sorting Economy (Logistics and ecommerce, and Business services) adding 425,000:
What is also of interest is to see where these sectors are concentrated. The Knowing Economy tends to be very much concentrated in the South East, and in places like Leeds and Manchester, whereas the Sorting Economy is far more spread out across the country, particularly in parts of the country where there used to be a high manufacturing presence:
One final thing we can look at is the skills dimension in these clusters. The chart below shows the skills components for Knowing and Sorting, with the bars (divided into Analytical, Interpersonal and Physical skills) showing the difference between the skill importance of Knowing jobs and Sorting jobs (the bars above zero are skills where Knowing jobs require a higher skill level than Sorting jobs):
What we can learn from this is as follows:
- Knowing jobs are generally more skill-intensive.
- In almost all analytical skills, Knowing jobs are more demanding.
- In almost all physical skills, Sorting jobs are more demanding.
- In all interpersonal skills, Knowing jobs are more demanding.
Given that analytical and interpersonal skills are rising in importance (see the Centre for Cities report – Can Cities Outsmart the Robots for more details), this raises the question about how exposed Sorting jobs might be to technological change.
To find out more about the Knowing and Sorting economies in your area, get in touch with us now.