Original post : 30 Nov 2012

Government figures reveal the Craft Industry is worth £10 billion to the UK economy

You may have missed it and I am surprised that no one is screaming it from the rooftops but last week Creative and Cultural Skills in association with BIS revealed the result s of the first comprehensive study to define and measure the heritage craft sector in England.

The results have had me turning cartwheels. At last we have some data to make people sit up and take notice.  Both you and I know that as individual businesses we may be small but together we are GRRRRREAT and the research proves it.

The full report can be found here but it is 144 pages long and in small text so I have distilled some highlights for you to drop into as many conversations as you can over the coming days and weeks.

The heritage craft sector employs nearly 210,000 people with up to a further 112,000 who work on an ad hoc basis in around 85,000 businesses. Some 96% of these businesses employ 10 people or fewer and 78%  of them are classed one man/woman bands. 

They estimate that 81% of us are using our crafting skills for the majority of our working day producing more than £10.8 billion in turnover in England alone. This adds £4.4bn value to the economy each year. The average business earns £65,000 which is £12,000 below the VAT threshold and those of us who work in textiles, clay, metal and paint have the biggest turnover. And even  in these recessionary times 34% expect some growth in the next 10 years which is a very optimistic outlook for us.

The research suggests that more men work in this sector than women but that isn't our experience to date. What does ring true though is that about a third of new entrants to craft jobs are between 35 and 49 and this age group also makes up a third of those who have been in the sector for one to five years. Reinforcing what we know anecdotally: many of us change career to use our craft skills later in life. Although there are concerns about interesting younger people in developing heritage craft skills, this does suggest that people are bringing a range of additional experience and training to craft businesses.

Over all the report describes a vibrant, economically significant sector. So next time someone suggests that it must be lovely being creative or that you really have a hobby rather than a business, you might want to mention a few facts.




I have exhibited work in the past but not for about 10 years now. I would despirately like to take the plunge and start making again. It is wonderfull to know that the indistry is doing so well in these troubled times.
Comment by Lawrence Buckley - 6 Dec 2012 10:01
Dear Juliet,
Not only is the craft sector expanding the public are generally becoming more and more interested in the knitting and sewing skills etc. that were so common in the past. Over the last year I have spent countless hours explaining the principals of both spinning and knitting to children and adults and when they realise that they too can create something they go away with a smile.
Thank you for keeping us posted and all the work you do on our behalf.
Cheers Jo (Woolie Batt)
Comment by Jo Davies - 5 Dec 2012 16:30
Dear Juliet,

As someone who is making that career change, these figures are quite reassuring. I finished an MA in Fashion and Textiles this year, and I still have family and friends who laugh at me because I "just knit".

With respect to the age of new entrants to the craft sector, I think lots of younger people are interested and practise them - I read about them on the Internet and met many during my MA. However, it takes a lot of courage to work in the craft sector, when for most this will mean being self-employed. And many may well be practising their craft, whilst earning a living in some other way. And one day, they may well become career changers.

Comment by Nicki Merrall - 1 Dec 2012 16:53
Dear Juliet, thank you for keeping us all posted with such impressive figures.It is great to have official confirmation that our design and making skills are appreciated and are contributing to the economy. Being a designer/maker is often a long and lonely road........Keep up the good work! Best wishes, Sasha
Comment by Sasha Kagan - 1 Dec 2012 15:19
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