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Geography

Characteristics of industry

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Industry is classified into different sectors - secondary, tertiary and quaternary. The employment structure of a country shows how the labour force is divided into the different sectors.

Classification of industry

Secondary industry

Factory

Factory

Secondary industries are those that take the raw materials [raw material: Anything naturally occurring in or on the earth / in the sea before being processed. These are obtained through primary activities such as mining, fishing, forestry and farming. ] produced by the primary sector and process them into manufactured [manufactured: Articles or goods produced by workers in secondary industries from raw materials. ] goods and products.

Examples of secondary industries include heavy manufacturing [heavy manufacturing: Industries like steel-making or textile production that are dependant on heavy raw materials (eg coal and iron) and produce bulky goods. ], light manufacturing [light manufacturing: Manufacturing where both the raw materials and final goods are less bulky and can be easily transported. Examples of light industries include food processing and household electrical goods. ], food processing, oil refining and energy production.

Tertiary and quaternary industry

The tertiary sector is also called the service sector and involves the selling of services and skills. They can also involve selling goods and products from primary and secondary industries. Examples of tertiary employment include the health service, transportation, education, entertainment, tourism, finance, sales and retail [retail: The commercial selling of goods and products. ].

Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast

Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast

The biggest area of expansion in the tertiary sector in the UK has been in financial and business services. According to government statistics, 25 years ago one in ten people worked in this industry, now it is 1 in 5.

The quaternary sector consists of those industries providing information services, such as computing, ICT (information and communication technologies), consultancy (offering advice to businesses) and R&D (research, particularly in scientific fields).

The quaternary sector is sometimes included with the tertiary sector, as they are both service sectors. The tertiary and quaternary sectors make up the largest part of the UK economy, employing 76 per cent of the workforce.

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