This GCSE Geography quiz takes a look at modern changes in industry in the UK. The economic geography of the UK has undergone some dramatic changes since the 18th century. Before the industrial revolution, maps would have shown that the UK economy was based on agriculture and cottage industries. All that changed during the industrialisation of Britain (the Industrial Revolution) as heavy industry and factory mass production of textiles, ceramics and many other goods began. The nature of the British economy started to change once again after the 1939-45 war as cheap foreign textiles, raw materials and other products became available through increased globalisation, making manufacturing in the UK less economic. At the same time, the increased mechanisation of agriculture and in factories (e.g. using robots to build cars) gradually increased unemployment, forcing people to look for work in different industry sectors.
There are three key industry sectors - primary, secondary and tertiary. The primary sector obtains the raw materials e.g. agriculture, mining and quarrying. The secondary sector is the manufacturing and assembly process that converts the raw materials into components and produces items for sale such as computers, smartphones, vehicles, ready meals, houses and bridges. The tertiary sector refers to the commercial services that take these items, selling and distributing the manufactured products. Also included in this sector are things like transport, teaching, advertising and health care.
There is another sector to industry, a relatively new addition and often included with the tertiary sector - the quaternary sector. This refers to the information services that support industry and commerce and includes research and development (R&D), ICT and consultancy (companies and individuals who advise businesses). The tertiary and quaternary sectors account for almost 80% of employment in the UK in the 21st century.
Heavy industry in the UK declined rapidly after the 1970s. At the time, foreign industries had become more competitive, transport costs were lower and so it started to become cheaper to import products such as coal and steel. A large part of the UK's economy depended on both coal and steel, like ship building and heavy engineering. There were a lot of workers strikes during the 1960s and 70s - workers were demanding better wages and working conditions. Gradually the UK-based heavy industries in the primary and secondary sectors became less and less economic to run and closed down. Since the start of the 21st century, China has built up a strong base of industry in the primary and secondary sectors and is a major supplier of raw materials and goods to the rest of the world, much like the UK used to be.
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