One million UK jobs depend on physics, report reveals

Oct 18, 2012
One million UK jobs depend on physics

A new report from the Institute of Physics (IOP) shows that 4% of employees in the UK work in companies that would not exist without the physics base, or without employees that have an advanced understanding of physics.

Dr Frances Saunders, incoming President of IOP, said, "It's too easy to overlook the contribution that physics makes to the economy.  From the number of jobs it creates to the value it adds, this report shows how much physics has to offer to our ."

Physics-based businesses employ more than one million people in the UK, creating a greater number of jobs than both the finance, banking and insurance sector and the construction sector. 

Additionally, the value that employees in physics-based businesses add to the is almost double that of the average UK employee; in 2010, the Gross Value Added (GVA) by the average employee was £36,000, while the average employee in a physics-based business contributed approximately £70,000.

Looking at physics-based businesses' contribution to the from 2005-2010, while employing 4% of the country's workers, these businesses provided, on average, 8.5% of our national GVA (analogous to , or ) each year.

The report, produced in collaboration with Deloitte, assesses physics-based businesses' contribution over the years 2005 to 2010 (the most recent years from which data is available) and, as such, can be used to assess the effect of 2008's on physics-based businesses.

The total number of registered businesses in the physics-based sector has risen since 2005 by more than 30%, showing that physics has an important role in emerging sectors of the economy to help drive economic recovery,

Dr Saunders adds, "Physics-based businesses have the potential to pull us out of but they need focused support through more ready access to capital and innovative public procurement."

Oxford Instruments, a FTSE250 company with an annual turnover of £337 million, is a leading provider of high-technology tools and systems to academic, research and industrial markets.

The company's Chief Executive, Jonathan Flint, says that "100% of our revenue is dependent on the physics discipline.

"Physics can play an integral part in recreating an economy that we can all be proud of."

What is a 'physics-based' business?

A challenge in the production of the report was identifying which sectors can be classified as 'physics-based'; technology gifted by physics underpins a wide range of businesses – from Tesco's checkout to Curry's flat screen televisions, lasers and LEDs wouldn't exist without physics. 

Tesco's and Curry's, however, would not have been included in the analysis as IOP and Deloitte agreed that 'physics-based' businesses would only refer to those businesses that would be unable to exist without ability to respond and adapt to latest advances in research.

Explore further: New insights found in black hole collisions

More information:

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Shortage of physics teachers in the UK worse than ever

Nov 21, 2005

An independent report published today directly links the steep decline in the number of students taking A-level physics to the shortage of expert physics teachers. With over 30% of physics teachers due to retire in the next ...

World Year of Physics 2005 Begins with Paris Conference

Jan 10, 2005

The World Year of Physics 2005 ( will officially launch at the Physics for Tomorrow conference in Paris, January 13-15. Four American students have received scholarships from U.S. physics organizations to ...

Girls are being left behind

Oct 03, 2012

Nearly half (49%) of all co-ed maintained schools in England do not send even one girl on to do physics A-level, a new report from the Institute of Physics (IOP) reveals today.

Recommended for you

New insights found in black hole collisions

Mar 27, 2015

New research provides revelations about the most energetic event in the universe—the merging of two spinning, orbiting black holes into a much larger black hole.

X-rays probe LHC for cause of short circuit

Mar 27, 2015

The LHC has now transitioned from powering tests to the machine checkout phase. This phase involves the full-scale tests of all systems in preparation for beam. Early last Saturday morning, during the ramp-down, ...

Swimming algae offer insights into living fluid dynamics

Mar 27, 2015

None of us would be alive if sperm cells didn't know how to swim, or if the cilia in our lungs couldn't prevent fluid buildup. But we know very little about the dynamics of so-called "living fluids," those ...

Fluctuation X-ray scattering

Mar 26, 2015

In biology, materials science and the energy sciences, structural information provides important insights into the understanding of matter. The link between a structure and its properties can suggest new ...

Hydrodynamics approaches to granular matter

Mar 26, 2015

Sand, rocks, grains, salt or sugar are what physicists call granular media. A better understanding of granular media is important - particularly when mixed with water and air, as it forms the foundations of houses and off-shore ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2012
How the hell is this possible? During the past 10 years I have been unable to interact with a SINGLE UK physicist who knows more physics than a kindergarten child. Some of them have fortunately died off, like Brian Pippard and Marshall Stomeham. But there are still too many of them alive, like Brian Josephson and Peter Holland. How can any country depend on physics if it has such idiots in charge of physics?
5 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2012
How the hell is this possible? During the past 10 years I have been unable to interact with a SINGLE UK physicist who knows more physics than a kindergarten child...

If your interaction with people on this forum hasn't made it amply obvious to you then maybe the very fact that you react like this might finally give you a clue: it is you who have no understanding of physics - not them.
1 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2012
This report just makes the origin of rock-steady ignorance of the cold fusion findings way more understandable: because the energetic research is already strategical research, most of these jobs are connected with research of various methods of energy production/conversion/transport and storage (from geology over solar/wind plants to battery research). If the cold fusion finding would remove the need of just one half of physicists engaged in this research, then we are facing army of 500.000 highly qualified people, who would need to find another job. All these people would prohibit the implementation of cold fusion as a single man. You can observe here easily, how this negativism manifest itself: all findings, which could increase the employment in physics are welcomed heartily here - but just the findings which would be most useful for the rest of human civilization (i.e. not just for close group of physicists) are ignored and their supporters are systematically downvoted here.
1 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2012
If your interaction with people on this forum hasn't made it amply obvious to you then maybe the very fact that you react like this might finally give you a clue: it is you who have no understanding of physics - not them.
Then why do they not sue me? I would like to take them under cross-examination in a court of law; preferably in the Court for Crimes against Humanity.

There are many more of these criminal physics-scoundrels around: eg. Ulrich Eckern. Heinrich Saller, Frank Wilczek, Gerardus 'tHoofd, Archie Campbell, Mikita Toyama etc. etc. etc.

Please, in the interest of the future of physics I challenge these destroyers of rational thinking to SUE ME!!!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.