The UK Space Sector Has Created 3,000 Jobs in One Year

The UK Space Sector Has Created 3,000 Jobs in One Year

Employment in the UK space sector hit 46,995 in 2020, up from 44,040 in 2019: an increase of 2,955 (6.7%). Sector income increased in nominal terms from £16.4 billion to £16.5 billion, with exports counting for around a third (32%) of this total. Space manufacturing, including satellites, spacecraft, launch vehicles and scientific instruments, grew the most in real terms; up by £23 million to £2.27 billion.

In line with the UK Government’s commitment to increasing public and private R&D spending, investment in research and development saw a 19% boost to £836 million.

Levelling up the space sector is a key priority for the UK Space Agency and there are now 1,293 space organisations located across the UK, with Scotland responsible for around one fifth of the entire UK space workforce. Employment in the sector grew from 7,703 to 8,440 in Scotland, from 415 to 1,109 in Wales, and from 113 to 431 in Northern Ireland.

Spaceports in Scotland, Wales and England are expected to generate more jobs in the coming years, alongside the growth of regional space clusters, international investment, and emerging technologies such as in-space manufacturing and debris removal, supported by the National Space Strategy.

When adjusted for inflation, the total income of the sector dropped marginally in real terms by 1.7% in 2020, compared to a 9.9% drop in the wider UK economy over the same period, caused predominantly by the Covid-19 pandemic. Fewer live sports broadcasts had a negative impact on satellite broadcasting services, while travel restrictions temporarily reduced demand for mobile satellite services from maritime companies and airlines.

Despite these challenges, confidence within the sector remains high, with more than three-quarters (79%) of organisations predicting a rise in income over the next three years, 74% expecting further increases in employment, and more than half (53%) expecting growth in space exports.

The survey also analysed UK space investments over the past decade, finding that 145 unique investors in 38 companies invested nearly £6 billion across 90 investment deals, between 2012 and 2021.

There has been a recent increase in this activity with the launch of the Seraphim Space Investment Trust in 2021, and a newly announced $50 million space and tech fund from US venture capital firm, Type One. Following the success of its funding round for Wales-based Space Forge last year, Type One has opened a UK office to manage ongoing investment and support early-stage space companies in the UK and Europe.

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