3.3 Industrial Systems

syllabus_link_buttonClassify industries into primary, secondary and tertiary and be able to give illustrations of each.


Industrial Classifications

  • Primary Industry: Extracting raw materials (fishing, mining, farming).
  • Secondary Industry: Manufacturing & construction (factory workers, builders, carpenters, bakers).
  • Tertiary Industry: Service provision ( teachers, bankers, police, lawyers, cleaners, taxi drivers).


syllabus_link_buttonDescribe and explain how the proportions employed in each sector change with respect to the level of development, including Newly Industrialised Countries (NICs).

Employment Structures

Employment structures show the proportions of the total workforce employed in the three industrial sectors.  Employment structure for countries vary significantly mainly based on the level of development of the country.

LEDCs (Less Economically Developed Countries)

Coffee harvest: Costa Rica
Coffee harvest: Costa Rica

These tend to have a high proportion of primary industry.  They rely heavily on the export of raw materials such as wood, rubber, minerals and metals for foreign earnings.  The high cost of developing manufacturing and service industries means that these are limited in number and often focused only around the main urban areas.  Relatively low education levels for the general population limits the development of more skilled industries.

The tertiary sector is often small due to low investment by the government in service industries.  LEDC countries that have tourist attractions may have a larger than expected tertiary sector.  Tanzania employs large numbers of people in the safari business (tour guides, hotel staff, park wardens, drivers) as the Serengeti draws huge numbers of visitors.  Mt Kilimanjaro also generates much employment for porters, guides and hotel workers.


NICs (Newly Industrialised Countries)

Manufacturing Industry
Manufacturing Industry

Countries such as India and China have industrialised their economies moving significantly into the secondary sector.  Their factories produce a huge range of items from more basic textile and plastics products through to high-tech products such as computers and smartphones.  The proportion of workers in the primary sector has declined as they mechanise farming.  Secondary industries are generally more profitable for countries than primary industry.

They are also typically more energy consuming which has environmental implications.  China’s rapid industrialisation without strict regulation  has resulted in significant air, water and soil pollution particularly in the major cities.

They are often located around urban areas which has an impact on internal migration patterns.

MEDCs (More Economically Developed Countries)

London Docklands: Financial sector
London Docklands: Financial sector

MEDCs have the bulk of the population employed in the tertiary sector which is usually the highest earning.  High investment in social services by the government such as health care and education create many jobs.  Private companies employ huge numbers in banking and ICT with companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple etc exporting their services globally.  The jobs in these industries are often more skilled and rely on highly educated labour forces.

These industries are typically less environmentally damaging due to their major asset being the employees rather than raw materials.  They focus on ideas and innovation with many of their products being intangible services which can be exported very easily, cheaply and quickly.

MEDCs secondary industry sector has declined due to competition from NICs where land and labour costs are lower.  Many firms moved their production to Asian countries to reduce costs and also be near large markets.





Demonstrate an understanding of an industrial system: inputs, processes and outputs (products and waste). Specific illustrations of high technology industries should be studied along with one other processing/manufacturing industry.

Industrial Systems

Car Manufacturing

Modern car manufacturers mainly assemble the component parts in their factory.  Other firms (ancillary firms) often supply the different parts made specifically for the factory.

Inputs:  skilled labour (engineers, computer engineers),  machinery (many processes are automated),  large area of flat land.

Processes:  metal fabrication (stamping, pressing, welding), painting, assembling, quality control inspections.

Outputs: cars,  engines and spare parts, waste products (heat, air pollution, offcuts of metal and plastic).


High-tech companies such as Facebook have different structures.   They have their offices in California where they require mainly highly skilled labour.  Other inputs are the computer systems and land for the offices.

In a completely different location (Prineville Oregon) they have their datacenter.  The main inputs here are server racks (thousands of servers processing and storing the information), land,  electricity (it is vital that there is uninterrupted power) for running the machines but also the cooling systems.   A minimal amount of skilled labour is required.

The main output is heat, aswell as the online service that is Facebook.  There will also be a small amount of waste from replaced machinery.


syllabus_link_buttonDescribe how a variety of factors must be considered when seeking the location for high technology industries and the selected industry.

Industrial Location

Virtually all companies aim to maximise their profit levels and a major factor in this is choosing the right location for their office or factory.  The requirements will vary according to the type of product that they are making.

Car Manufacturing: Nissan, Sunderland, UK

When choosing the location for their car factory Nissan had several key factors to look at.

Land: Car factories require large expanses of flat land to establish their production line, test cars and store the finished products until they are transported away.  The availability and cost of land will be a significant factor.  Sunderland had available flat land from the decline of older industries and the Government offered grants (money to Nissan) to locate there (they would benefit the area by creating jobs).

Labour: The decline of older manufacturing industries in the region had resulted in high rates of unemployment of skilled workers which was ideal for Nissan.

Transport: Sunderland is a coastal city and the Nissan factory has excellent road links to the nearby port for export to European markets.  The factory is also located close to the A1 motorway providing great links to the rest of the UK.


High-technology Firms: M4 Corridor, UK

High tech forms have different requirements.  Their products tend to be small and low bulk but high value.  Being close to raw materials is not so important.  Their premises are often relatively small so land is not too much of an issue.

Labour:  This is the key factor for these firms.  They need access to a highly skilled labour market.  The M4 motorway links Oxford (home of Oxford University) with London and provides a large potential workforce.

The proximity to Oxford allows high-tech firms to establish relationships with the universities and benefit from their research facilities.