Physics-based industry is crucial to Wales, says IOP report launched in Cardiff

4 April 2017

A report showing that physics-based industries are worth more than £10.7 bn to the Welsh economy and lead to the employment of more than 200,000 people in Wales was launched yesterday at the Senedd in Cardiff.

Physics-based industry is crucial to Wales, says IOP report launched in Cardiff
Kate Stuart Photography

The report, The role of physics in supporting economic growth and national productivity in Wales, was commissioned by the IOP from the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

It shows that in 2013, physics-based industries in Wales accounted directly for £5.2 bn gross value added (GVA) to the economy. When indirect effects such as stimulating demand in the supply chain and spending by employees are included, industries dependent on physics contribute £10.7 bn to the Welsh economy.

They were responsible for directly employing almost 84,000 people in 2015, contributing an average of £56,978 a year each in value added. When indirect effects are included, physics-based industries stimulate the employment of around 200,000 people in Wales each year.

Physics-based industry is crucial to Wales, says IOP report launched in Cardiff
Kate Stuart Photography

Introducing the launch event, Welsh Assembly member David Rees said he would be sharing the information in the report with other assembly members. Rees, who sponsored the event, emphasised the importance of all the sciences in building a strong economy in Wales.

Afterwards, he said: “The impact of science upon the Welsh economy cannot be overvalued and this report highlights that very point. It shows that as Wales moves forward the vision of a strong economy based upon our sciences is critical to offering high-skilled opportunities and improving GVA.”

Professor Alison McMillan, professor in aerospace technology at Wrexham Glyndŵr University and speaking at the launch as a former vice-president for business for the IOP, underlined the value of physics to important sectors in Wales, such as security and renewable energy. Arguing that the future would lie in high-value manufacturing jobs, she stressed that innovative technologies would be a key component of the Welsh economy in the coming years and said we should look for areas in which the role of physics could be strengthened.

Physics-based industry is crucial to Wales, says IOP report launched in Cardiff
Kate Stuart Photography

Also speaking at the launch was the IOP’s chief executive, Professor Paul Hardaker. Unpacking some of the detail in the report, he highlighted in particular the GVA per employee in the physics-based industries, which was more than double that of employees in the economy as a whole. For GVA per hours worked, the comparison was even more dramatic, at almost 20 times.

Professor Andrew Evans, chair of the IOP in Wales, said in a foreword to the report: “For Wales to continue to benefit from a high-technology, high-productivity economy in the future, it must continue to invest in physics today – in schools, in higher and further education, in research and in the businesses that thrive on the fruits of physics. The IOP is working with communities and stakeholders across the country to ensure that the benefits of physics are recognised and that the investment necessary for prosperity is secured.”