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The publishing industry is part of the creative industries, which is represented by Skillset Sector Skills Council. This includes: advertising; animation; computer games; corporate and commercial production; fashion and textiles; film; interactive media; photo imaging; publishing; radio; and television.

Publishing is made up of 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.

Key facts:

  • 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.
  • Around 45% of the workforce has a degree.

Jobs in the industry include: Editor, Illustrator, Journalist, Indexer, Licensing Manager, Commissioning Editor, Managing Editor, Production Editor, Sales Executive, Marketing Manager, Publicity Assistant

Entry and progression
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.

There are a range of industry endorsed courses (both at undergraduate and post‐graduate), training schemes and a Diploma available.

For job specific entry requirements, job profiles should be consulted.

Workforce statistics
Number of UK employees: over 200,000
Gender: 53% male, 47% female – more women are needed in senior management positions
Age: 52% of the workforce is aged 20‐39 years
6% of the workforce in newspapers and 11% news agencies are aged 16‐19 years
Ethnicity: 94% of the workforce is from white ethnic groups
11% report themselves as having a disability or some form of long‐term illness
Employment trends and future prospects

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.

Skill requirements and shortages
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.

Salary levels
There is no current information on salary rates in the publishing industry.
BECTU, the industry trade union, can advise on rates for freelancers working in the industry.

Further sources
Advertising Association
Association of Online Publishers
British Printing Industries Federation
National Union of Journalists
The Publishers Association (PA)
Periodical Publishers Association
Digital Content Forum
Data Publishers Association