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Towards a knowledge-based service economy?

Currently, 38.5% of total EU employment is in knowledge-intensive services, and this percentage is on the increase.

Economic growth is to be anchored in knowledge-intensive and high value-added activities (Europe 2020 flagship initiative on ‘Innovation union’).

The indicator presented below is employment in knowledge-intensive service (KIS) sectors, (as % of total employment). It can be complemented with additional information on high-tech or knowledge-intensive manufacturing activities.

Key points

  • In 2010, 83.3 million workers in the EU (or 38.5% of total employment) were employed in knowledge-intensive services. Almost half of them (49%) had high educational attainment (tertiary level), but medium-level education was also in high demand, accounting for 40% of workers in KIS. Only a residual share of 11% had low educational attainment (lower than upper-secondary education).
  • In 2010, employment in knowledge-intensive services (as share of total employment) was highest in Luxembourg (55%) and lowest in Romania (approximately 20%).
  • Between 2008 and 2010 in the EU as a whole, employment in knowledge-intensive services continued to grow (1.7 million jobs or a 2.1% increase), as did its share on total employment (by 1.7 percentage points).
  • Over the same period (2008-10), employment in KIS increased in almost all EU countries, with highest increase (over 6%) reported in Luxembourg, Poland and Austria.
  • Employment in KIS dropped in only eight European countries: about 11% in Latvia and 3% or less in seven other countries (Bulgaria, Finland, Netherlands, Estonia, Italy, Lithuania and Greece). Even when declining, employment in KIS resisted the crisis better: job loss was proportionally lower than average, with an increased share on total employment.

Notes:

Data originate from the EU labour force survey and are subject to its methodology. Data were extracted from the Eurostat online database on 5 December 2011. The indicator is based on employment data in selected economic sectors of service economy. Sectors are selected on the basis of incidence of highly educated workers (share of employed persons with tertiary educational attainment). The criterion is applied to classification of economic activities (NACE Rev. 2, at 2-digit level).