December 4, 2013 by Luke Mason
Quick, name a nation with an economy driven by the growth of high-tech industries and occupations. Did you say France? Probably not; the high-tech conversation gets dominated by the usual suspects, like the U.S., China, and Japan. But, as easy as it is to caricature the French economy as being built on wine, cheese, and tourism, it’s also home to a growing and thriving high-tech sector that should be very interesting to anyone looking to understand the global technology economy.
The easiest way to get a sense of the sort of skills that are important to the French economy is to look at its top occupations. Using Analyst for France, we generated a list of occupations in France (using the French government’s own PCS-ES codes to describe the categories.) Then we sorted out all the occupations earning an hourly equivalent below the national median, which was a surprisingly high €15.39 (the equivalent of $20.64). Once low-wage jobs were removed from the picture, the list of occupations that had added the most jobs since 2004 looked like this:
What really popped about this list — beyond how completely research and development in computer science dominated the other occupations — was how many of the occupations we found were in high-tech fields. Four of the top 10 are clearly computer-related, including the runaway leader (research and development in computer science, engineers and research managers), which has added over 44,000 jobs in the last decade.
Not only are there a large number of new high-tech workers in France, the high-tech occupations in the top 10 cover a broad range of skill levels and roles in the workplace. In the first place, we saw the engineers and research managers for computer science. Right behind them, though, are IT managers, responsible for implementing the new technologies that the research managers have developed. The technicians who work for the computer science research managers are also a growing field, coming in seventh with almost 7,000 new jobs. Meanwhile, the 10th entry on the list is held by managers of computer user support and maintenance services.
It makes sense, since tech occupations are doing well, that high-tech industries should also be growing. To get a quick idea of France’s tech industries, we looked at an inverse staffing pattern to see which industries were employing the most workers from these occupations. While it included a range of generic engineering and corporate sectors that hire tech workers (industries that we omitted), there were a number of specifically relevant industries in the list as well. But their performance has been more varied than that of high-tech workers:
One of the major trends in the French economy that we found in the data was the violent downturn of telecommunications industries. While tech occupations have generally increased their role in industries across the board, in telecoms industries they were sharply down, and as the chart shows, three of the four major tech industries that lost jobs were telecoms-related. Wireless telecommunications activities, manufacture of telecommunications equipment, and other telecommunications activities all declined by over 40%. The only other industry on the list to lose jobs was the manufacture of computers and peripheral equipment. Meanwhile, the only communications industry to add jobs was wired telecommunications activities, and it was up only 4%.
While France has many large urban centers, jobs in these tech industries are concentrated in a few major cities, as seen in the concentration map to the left (click on the map to see more detail.) Unsurprisingly, Paris and its suburbs have the largest number, with Paris proper, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, and Val-de-Marne all appearing in the top 10 departments. Hauts-de-Seine also has the nation’s highest location quotient for this group of industries (4.75), significantly higher than any other department. The Rhone department, centred on the city of Lyon, also has a significant number, as do Haute-Garonne (Toulouse) and Yvelines, on the outskirts of Paris. The top 10 departments, with their job totals, are shown below.
Illustration by Mark Beauchamp. Data shown in this post comes from Analyst for France, EMSI’s web-based labor market data and analysis tool. Contact Fraser Martens for more. Follow EMSI on Twitter (@DesktopEcon).