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Geography

Industrial change in MEDCs

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Industry is characterised by change. In the UK heavy industry has declined and high technology industry has grown. The expansion of the EU has created changes in the migration of workers and the location of companies.

Location winners and losers

Industrial location within the UK

In the past, industry in the UK was mainly located in areas where raw materials and energy was available. Key industrial areas, where iron and steel could be processed, included South Wales and Northern England.

As materials became exhausted and imports became more available, the industry in these areas declined. Government intervention has helped some of these areas. Grants have been given for firms to set up in areas of high unemployment.

The rise of high technology industries in the UK has meant areas that attract skilled workers and have excellent communication links have benefited from growth. These areas include the M4 Corridor, which contain footloose industries [footloose industries: Industries which have a choice of location as they don’t need to be located near raw materials. ].

The M4 corridor

The M4 corridor

Industrial location within Europe

In 2004 eight Eastern European countries joined the EU. One of these countries was Poland. This resulted in workers migrating from Poland to the UK for jobs, sometimes in low skilled manual jobs such as fruit picking. The expansion of the EU has also led to some companies moving out of the UK. Twinings Tea and Cadburys Chocolate are two examples of firms moving from the UK to Poland.

Worldwide industrial location

Factories based in countries such as India and China have around 25% lower operating costs than the UK. There is growing demand for cheap manufactured goods such as clothing and electronics. Both China and India have a large labour force to provide workers for the factory. They also have a plentiful supply of energy. These countries also have fewer regulations, which make it cheaper for a factory to produce goods. Firms which have a choice of location are attracted to areas where they can make more profit. China is now an important manufacturing industry producing a large share of the world's electronic goods, clothes and shoes.

Many call centres for insurance companies, banks and railways are also now located in countries which have cheap but skilled labour. Norwich Union is one company which has moved its call centre from the UK to India.

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