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Publishing comprises many different sub-sectors, including: books; journals (including electronic journals); newspapers; news agencies; magazines and business media; directories and databases; and newsletters and reports. Newspapers, covering both national and local newspapers, are the largest sub-sector employing over 60,000, around 30% of the sector. The smallest sub-sector is News Agencies, which employs 24,000 and comprises 11% of the sector.

Emerging markets in the UK and internationally will impact on future employment trends in the publishing industry. The workforce will have to adapt to these changes, together with the need to adopt new technologies. Publishing has shifted to make use of new technologies, particularly mobile technologies and to take advantage of multi-platform publishing opportunities. These changes have significant implications on intellectual property and sales, with a need to anticipate where competition comes from.

Key statistics:

  • There are over 200,000 people employed in the publishing industry, representing less than 1% of all those working in the UK.
  • Over 60,000 of the publishing workforce is employed in newspapers.
  • The publishing industry generates a turnover of £8.3 billion Gross Value Added and is one of the biggest earners for the UK creative media industries.
  • 85% of business have less than 24 employees, 3% have 200 or more employees.
  • The majority of companies are based in London and the South East of England.
  • 47% of the workforce is female, but more women are needed in senior management positions.
  • 52% of the workforce is aged 20-39 years.
  • 6% of the workforce in newspapers and 11% news agencies are aged 16-19 years.
  • 94% of the workforce is from white ethnic groups.
  • 11% report themselves as having a disability or some form of long-term illness.
  • Around 45% of the workforce has a degree.

Employers look for people who can demonstrate a well-informed passion and enthusiasm for the sector, and who show initiative and creativity in the way they approach their work. Publishing is highly competitive industry; so many entry level jobs are taken by graduates. Entrants will often need to have undertaken some work experience and may need to take a postgraduate course.

Publishers usually expect a good first degree and they might expect in addition a specialist subject for your degree or a pre-entry certificate in an occupational area (e.g. a National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) or Periodicals Training Council (PTC) recognised qualifications). High levels of literacy and numeracy are expected. Personal qualities and people skills are just as important in order to get into the industry and transferable business skills are highly rated.

The main skills issues are around the different ways the customer can access products, how to develop content for different formats and how to sell that content in new and emerging markets in the UK and internationally. Gaps range from the high-end business management and leadership skills needed to develop and drive creative and commercial strategy, to technical skills which will need constantly updating in light of emerging technologies. Sound project management, communication and team-working skills are also in demand.

The largest publishing workforce is located in: London; the South East; the North West (including Merseyside); Scotland; the South West; and the West Midlands. In Wales and Northern Ireland, the industry is predominately made up of small publishers and news media.

Source: Skillset AACS LMI report 2010 and Publishing Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009


Occupational profile of publishing workforce, 2007


Source: Publishing Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009, Figure 2. Data from the Labour Force Survey 2007.