In our 2013 study, A Dynamic Mapping of the UK’s Creative Industries, we noted that concepts like the ‘creative industries’ and ‘creative economy’ – indeed ‘creativity’ itself – although widely used by policymakers, lacked sufficiently clear and rigorous definitions. The report aimed to address this weakness by introducing clear criteria for which occupations should or should not be considered ‘creative’ for measurement purposes. The report also introduced a methodology for determining which industries should be classified as ‘creative’ based on their creative intensity (Freeman 2004, 2008a, Bakhshi et al., 2013:12), defined as the proportion of an industry’s workforce in creative occupations. It found that creative intensity distinguishes ‘creative industries’ from other industries which also employ creative talent: although large numbers of individuals are employed in creative occupations in many industries, only a small number of these – the ‘creative industries’ – have exceptionally high levels of creative intensity.
Concepts like ‘high–tech industry’, and ‘STEM’ occupation, it turns out, are also plagued by definitional ambiguities and uncertainties. The wide range of classifications adopted by different studies – even within countries – has given rise to significant differences in estimates of the size, growth and geography of the high–tech industries and also of the demand for, and use made of, STEM occupations and skills in the wider economy.
In this report, we ground our definition of STEM occupations, the high–tech industries and the wider high–tech economy, in a statistical analysis of STEM intensity which mirrors our use of creative intensity, but which differs from it in significant ways (and in particular, as discussed below, reflecting the fact that STEM intensity turns out to be a weaker discriminator between industries than creative intensity).