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Industry can be classified using a four-way division. Over time, the percentage of the population of a country working in these different sectors of industry will change as the country develops. This is covered in the 'Employment structures' section.

- Primary industries are classified as those which produce the raw materials for industry. Examples include mining, quarrying, farming, fishing and forestry, all of which produce raw materials that can be processed in to a finished product. People working in these industries are described as being in the primary sector.


Secondary industries are the manufacturing and assembly industries. They take raw materials and manufacture finished products from them. Examples include steel manufacture, bread making and food processing. People working in these industries are described as being in the secondary sector.

- Tertiary industries are service industries, and are the area of most growth in the United Kingdom. Examples include doctors, teachers, lawyers, estate agents, travel agents, accountants and policemen. People working in these industries are described as being in the tertiary sector.

- Quaternary industries are the newest, most hi-tech sector of industry. They are the research and development industries. Examples include the development of new computer components and research into GM crops. People working in these industries are described as being in the quaternary sector.

You can use the percentage of people working in each sector to help describe how developed a country is. This is called the employment structure. By looking back through history you can also see how one single country has developed by looking at the changes in their employment structure.

The more developed a country becomes the more it will rely on secondary and, in particular, tertiary industries. A less developed country will be characterised by a greater percentage of the population in primary industries, usually farming.

Example: Ethiopia

Primary: 88%; Secondary: 2%; Tertiary: 10%; Quaternary:0%

Ethiopia is a typical example of a developing country, in terms of its employment structure. The majority of the population work in the primary sector. Most of these are subsistence farmers, who basically grow enough for themselves and their family, but little more. They don't have a great deal, if any, left over to sell at the market.

Ethiopian farming

Ethiopia has very little manufacturing industry, as it does not have the raw materials available, and lacks sufficient investment and technology toe xploit the natural resources that it does have.

10% work in the tertiary industry, primarily in the main cities, such as Addis Ababa, where there are hospitals, schools and other professional services.The remainder of the country has very poor access to education and health care due to this lack of people in the tertiary sector.

Example: The United Kingdom

Primary: 3%; Secondary: 25%; Tertiary: 70%; Quaternary: 2%

The United Kingdom exhibits the employment structure of a well-developed country. The number of people working in the primary sector has steadily decreased as mines have closed and technology has meant fewer people are required.

The number of people working in the secondary sector is still reasonably high, but has also been falling steadily as new, more efficient technology has again meant less people being needed.

The massive growth has been in the tertiary sector, where huge numbers of jobs have been created. This is not just in the traditional tertiary industries like teaching and health care, but also in the tourist industry, the computer industry and the financial industry.

There has also been the introduction of the quaternary sector, although this still takes up a very small percentage of the overall employment structure of the country.

The changing employment structure of Great Britain:

employment structure of UK