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Devon’s economy

  • by JW

The trends, opportunities and challenges – in Digital Technologies, Professional, Scientific & Technical Services, Healthcare and Tourism


Young people interviewed for the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan wanted ‘interesting jobs’:

The Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan – supporting an entrepreneurial culture

Young people ‘struggle to envisage a future living by the sea’

Meanwhile, the Lighthouse digital hub is celebrating one year of providing services for the self-employed:

Lighthouse Sidmouth business hub to shine a light on entrepreneurial community


Interestingly, the latest report on Devon’s economy shows that, whilst it is dominated by low-pay low-status tourism, other industries are growing faster, as Daniel Clark of the Local Democracy Reporting Service shows:


Report reveals state of Devon’s economy

The information is provided in a report showing the current state of the Devon economy, the current structure of the economy, and the trends, opportunities and challenges. It went before Devon County Council’s Corporate, Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday.


The economic modelling suggests that Devon’s economy will grow by just under 14 per cent and there will be a further 23,000 jobs between now and 2030.

The eight sectors that have the potential to expand over the coming years all of Digital Technologies – 43%, Professional, scientific and technical – 40%, Transformative Healthcare – 24%, Tourism – 23%, Advanced Manufacturing – 23% , Agritech and Food and Drink – 17% , Environmental Industries – 16% and Construction – 9%

  • Digital industries

Devon is home to one of the fastest growing ICT clusters in the UK, with the number of companies operating within the sector having grown 36% since 2010 and a 100% increase in staffing including the creation of over 2,000 new computer programmers post since 2010.

  • Advanced Manufacturing

Devon’s manufacturing sector is its hidden strength. Directly employing 8.4% of the County’s workforce and contributing £1.3bn in GVA to the UK economy in 2016, this sector has grown by 22% in the past 6 years alone.

  • Agri-Tech / Food and Drink

With four times more agricultural businesses then the UK average, and exports of both expertise and finished products to over 200 countries, the sector annually contributes over £750m per annum to the UK economy.

  • Transformative Health Care

Devon has a large and innovative health sector, employing around 14% of its workforce (including 26,000 posts in the private sector alone), and contributing around £1bn to the national economy.

  • Construction

The construction sector underpins many of the key economic opportunities likely to emerge in the next decade. Devon has a central role to play in enabling this, with three of the five largest construction firms based in and around Exeter and home to 22,000 construction operatives in total (1.2% of the UK total).

  • Environmental Science

Home to the highest concentration of climate scientist in the world, the County has seen a 367 per cent increase in the number of environmental consultancies and businesses since 2010, with a 400 per cent increase in the number of individuals working in the sector.

  • Professional Services

Exeter is the 2nd largest centre for legal and engineering services in the South West, and one of the UK’s top 25 centres for financial and professional capability. Output from the sector has grown 233 per cent since 2010, one of the fastest rates of growth within the UK, and professional services firms are increasingly attracted to Devon’s more rural areas

  • Tourism

Devon remains one of the UK’s favourite destinations, with a highly competitive environmental and coastal offer, the County attracted 24 million overnight stays from visitors from across the UK and the world in 2016, contributing £2.5bn to its economy and employing 12 per cent of the County’s workforce. There are twice as many tourism business in Devon than the national average


Devon has one of the largest visitor economies in Britain, drawing in visitor spend of almost £2.5bn per year, primarily driven by the quality of its natural environment. The report also recognises the essential role farmers and the forestry sector play in terms of guardianship of the environment, which in turn acts as a powerful attractive element to the visitor economy, as around 69% of all visitors to Devon are attracted by its environment.


Devon has a small and micro business focused economy. There are some growing sectors spread across Devon such as digital, advanced manufacturing, agri-tech and environmental science which provide scope for a launchpad for economic growth.

Report reveals state of Devon’s economy |,uk

photo: Honiton @ List of towns and cities in Devon by population – Wikipedia