Professional, scientific and technical activity statistics - NACE Rev. 2


Data from May 2019

Planned article update: March 2020

Highlights

The professional, scientific and technical activity sector accounted for 9.5 % of the total number of persons employed in the EU in 2016.

The professional, scientific and technical activity sector accounted for 18.8 % of the total number of enterprises in the EU in 2016.
Sectoral analysis of professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), EU-28, 2016
(% share of sectoral total) - Source: Eurostat (sbs_na_1a_se_r2)

This article presents an overview of statistics for the European Union’s (EU) professional, scientific and technical services sector, as covered by NACE Rev. 2 Section M. These activities often require a high degree of education and training and make specialised knowledge and skills available to clients who may be other business users or private individuals. This article belongs to a set of statistical articles on 'Business economy by sector'.

Full article

Structural profile

The EU-28’s professional, scientific and technical activity sector (NACE Section M) numbered almost 4.6 million enterprises in 2016, employing 13.5  million persons and generating EUR 743.6 billion of value added. This sector’s contribution to the non-financial business economy (Sections B to J and L to N and Division 95) was 18.8 % of the enterprise population, 9.5 % of the employment, and 10.4 % of value added.

Table 1: Key indicators, professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), EU-28, 2016 - Source: Eurostat (sbs_na_1a_se_r2)

The apparent labour productivity of the EU-28’s professional, scientific and technical activity sector in 2016 was EUR 55 000 per person employed, which was slightly above the non-financial business economy average of EUR 50 500 per person employed. Alongside this high apparent labour productivity, average personnel costs within the professional, scientific and technical activity sector were EUR 44 500 per employee, which was above the average for the non-financial business economy (EUR 33 800 per employee).

The wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio shows that value added per person employed was equivalent to 123.0 % of average personnel costs per employee across the EU-28 in 2016. This ratio was under the non-financial business economy average (149.4 %) and the second lowest in the non-financial business economy (Sections B to J and L to N and Division 95). The EU-28’s professional, scientific and technical activity sector recorded a gross operating rate of 19.4 % in 2016, almost twice the 11.0 % average for the whole of the non-financial business economy.

Sectoral analysis

The professional, scientific and technical services sector can be divided into seven subsectors at the NACE division level. Among these, according to the data available for 2016, there were big differences in their contribution to value added and employment. Three subsectors, namely legal and accounting activities (Division 69), activities of head offices; management consultancy activities (Division 70) and architectural and engineering activities; technical testing and analysis (Division 71) provided in total 77.5 % of EU-28 sectorial value added and 75.4 % of its sectorial employment in 2016. Other four subsectors contributed to remaining 22.5 % of EU-28 sectorial value added and 24.6 % of its sectorial employment in 2016 with veterinary activities (Division 75) being the smallest one with the contribution (in both value added and employment terms) of veterinary activities (Division 75) under 2 %.

Figure 1: Sectoral analysis of professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), EU-28, 2016
(% share of sectoral total) - Source: Eurostat (sbs_na_1a_se_r2)

Scientific research and development subsector recorded the highest levels of apparent labour productivity and also highest levels of average personnel costs in the EU-28 across the professional, scientific and technical services sector in 2016, with the productivity measure reaching EUR 71 000 per person employed and average personnel costs equal to EUR 64 600 per employee.

Within the EU-28, the lowest levels of apparent labour productivity among the subsectors that form professional, scientific and technical services were recorded for the veterinary activities (EUR 37 000 per person employed) and for other professional, scientific and technical services (EUR 43 000 per person employed)  — see Table 2b — these two subsectors reported apparent labour productivity which was below the non-financial business economy average (EUR 50 500 per person employed).

Table 2a: Sectoral analysis of key indicators, professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), EU-28, 2016 - Source: Eurostat (sbs_na_1a_se_r2)


Table 2b: Sectoral analysis of key indicators, professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), EU-28, 2016 - Source: Eurostat (sbs_na_1a_se_r2)

Veterinary activities reported lowest average personnel costs per employee across the professional, scientific and technical services sector in 2016 (EUR 25 700 per employee) and also the only one below the non-financial business economy average (EUR 33 800 per employee). The EU-28’s professional, scientific and technical activities sector (at 123.0 %), and all of its subsectors recorded in 2016 a wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio below average for EU-28’s non-financial business economy (149.4 %). Only two of the seven subsectors which form the professional, scientific and technical services sector reported a wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio that was close to the non-financial business economy average and those were the veterinary activities (143.0 %) and the advertising and market research activities (143.0 %) subsectors. The lowest wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio (110.0 %) was registered for the scientific research and development, where the level of wage adjusted labour productivity was dampened by particularly high average personnel costs.

Six of the seven subsectors recorded a gross operating rate in 2016 that was higher than the non-financial business economy average (11.0 %) with the exception scientific research and development (6.8 %) This was particularly the case for the EU-28’s legal and accounting services subsector (34.0 %), for other professional, scientific and technical activities (30.0 %) and for veterinary activities (26.4 %),

Country overview

The most specialized EU Member States in employment terms in the professional, scientific and technical services sector in 2016 were Greece, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom, as each contributed to more than 10 % of their non-financial business economy employment in these activities. Six out of these seven Member States —  along with France Denmark and Malta —  also occupied the top of the ranking in relation to the most specialized Member States for value added, with double-digit shares of at least 10 %. Based on value added, specialization peaked in the United Kingdom, where 15.6 % of non-financial business economy value added was generated by the professional, scientific and technical services sector in 2016.

Figure 2: Relative importance of professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), 2016
(% share of value added and employment in the non-financial business economy total) - Source: Eurostat (sbs_na_1a_se_r2)


The United Kingdom had the largest share of EU-28 value added (27.4 %) within the professional, scientific and technical services sector in 2016, while the highest share of the sectorial employment was recorded by Germany (20.2 % of the total). The five largest EU Member States generated more than three quarters (75.1 %) of the EU-28’s value added and contributed to two thirds (67.2 %) of the EU-28’s employment.

Figure 3: Concentration of value added and employment, professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), 2016
(cumulative share of the five principal Member States as a % of the EU-28 total) - Source: Eurostat (sbs_na_1a_se_r2)


More detailed analysis by NACE division, shows that the United Kingdom had the highest level of value added among the EU Member States for six out of the seven subsectors shown in Table 3 while Germany recorded the highest share of EU-28 value added in the remaining subsector (architectural and engineering activities; technical testing and analysis). There was a somewhat higher than average degree of concentration within the professional, scientific and technical services sector in 2016.

Table 3: Largest and most specialised Member States in professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), EU-28, 2016 - Source: Eurostat (sbs_na_1a_se_r2)



The apparent labour productivity of the professional, scientific and technical services sector in 2016 was less than EUR 20 000 per person employed in Greece, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Hungary and Poland; while it exceeded EUR 75 000 thousand per person employed in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark and peaking at EUR 95 700 per person employed in Luxembourg. It was even higher, at EUR 135 200 per person employed in Switzerland (non-member country). However, after adjusting for the average personnel costs the ranking of countries according to the wage-adjusted labour productivity was a bit different. Romania moved rankings to the third highest position, as their particularly low average personnel costs more than compensated for their low apparent labour productivity. Higher wage-adjusted labour productivity than Romania (152.0 %) were recorded only for the United Kingdom (188.5 %) and Malta (230.7 %).

Together with Cyprus (150.2 %), these three countries were the only EU Member States to record a wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio for the professional, scientific and technical services sector that was above the EU-28's average for the non-financial business economy (EUR 149.4 %). At the other side, Greece and Portugal had wage-adjusted labour productivity ratios below parity, mainly due to lower apparent labour productivity.

Table 4a: Key indicators, professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), 2016 - Source: Eurostat (sbs_na_1a_se_r2)


Table 4b: Key indicators, professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), 2016 - Source: Eurostat (sbs_na_1a_se_r2)

Size class analysis

The role of micro enterprises (employing fewer than 10 persons) within the professional, scientific and technical services sector was considerable. There were 4.4 million micro enterprises across the EU-28 in 2016, accounting for 96.7 % of the total enterprise population. They provided work to almost 6.5 million persons, which equated to almost half (47.9 %) of the employment within the professional, scientific and technical services sector. While micro enterprises generated the highest level of value added (EUR 279.0 billion), their contribution to the sectorial value added total was less marked (37.5 %) than their employment contribution, therefore suggesting that they had a relatively low level of apparent labour productivity when compared with the three remaining size classes. Indeed, each person employed by a micro enterprise within the EU-28’s professional, scientific and technical services sector generated an average of EUR 43 000 of added value in 2016. Apparent labour productivity was much higher for small enterprises with EUR 58 600 per person employed and large enterprises EUR 71 500 per person employed, almost 1.7 times the ratio recorded for micro enterprises.

Table 5: Key size class indicators, professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), EU-28, 2016 - Source: Eurostat (sbs_sc_1b_se_r2)


Figure 4: Relative importance of enterprise size classes, professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), EU-28, 2016
(% share of sectoral total) - Source: Eurostat (sbs_sc_1b_se_r2)


The relative importance of small enterprises (employing 10 to 49 persons) and large enterprises (employing 250 or more persons) to the EU-28’s professional, scientific and technical services sector was quite similar, accounting for 20.2 % and 26.0 % of the sectorial value added and for 18.9 % and 19.9 % of the sectorial employment in 2016. Medium-sized enterprises (employing 50 to 249 persons) accounted for a somewhat smaller share of total activity, 16.3 % of sectorial value added and 13.2 % of the sectorial employment.

Figure 5: Sectoral analysis of employment by enterprise size class, professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), EU-28, 2016
(% share of sectoral employment) - Source: Eurostat (sbs_sc_1b_se_r2)


Figure 6: Sectoral analysis of value added by enterprise size class, professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), EU-28, 2016
(% share of sectoral value added) - Source: Eurostat (sbs_sc_1b_se_r2)

Among the professional, scientific and technical services subsectors of the EU-28, all except scientific research and development subsector reported that micro enterprises accounted for the largest share of the employment in 2016.

Table 6a: Number of persons employed by enterprise size class, professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), 2016 - Source: Eurostat (sbs_sc_1b_se_r2)


Table 6b: Value added by enterprise size class, professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), 2016 - Source: Eurostat (sbs_sc_1b_se_r2)

Regions

The Île de France (which includes the French capital city of Paris) recorded the highest number of persons employed, across NUTS level 2 regions within the EU-28, for the professional, scientific and technical services sector in 2016. With an employment of 609 100 persons, the Île de France accounted for 4.5 % of the total number of persons employed in the EU-28 in this sector. The second highest number of persons employed was recorded for Inner London — the capital city region of the United Kingdom — where 393 300 persons worked in the professional, scientific and technical services sector. Lombardia (which includes city of Milan), the Spanish capital city region of the Comunidad de Madrid and the German region of Oberbayern (which includes Munich) completed the top five ranking. In all regions that were in the top 10, reported number of persons working in the professional, scientific and technical services sector in 2016 was in excess of 200 000.

Figure 7: Ten largest NUTS 2 regions in terms of employment, professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE Section M), EU-28, 2016
(thousands) - Source: Eurostat (sbs_r_nuts06_r2)

The ranking of the largest regions suggests that employment within the EU-28’s professional, scientific and technical services sector was largely concentrated in urban regions. Aside from Paris, London and Madrid, the capital city regions containing Berlin, Amsterdam, Rome, Stockholm and Athens, all featured among the top 20 regions for employment within the professional, scientific and technical services sector. There were a number of other large cities within the ranking, as regions containing Barcelona (in Spain); Munich, Cologne, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart (in Germany); Milano (in Italy), Manchester (in the United Kingdom), Rotterdam (in the Netherlands) and Lyon (in France). The relative importance of the professional, scientific and technical services sector can be analysed by comparing the employment of this sector with the non-financial business economy employment. Among the 210 NUTS level 2 regions for which data are available in 2016, the median share of the professional, scientific and technical services sector in non-financial business economy employment was 7.7 %. Using this measure, the capital city region of Inner London West (the United Kingdom) recorded the highest share of employment for the professional, scientific and technical services sector within its non-financial business economy employment, at more than one in four persons (30.7 %). Two other regions in the United Kingdom, namely Inner London East and North Eastern Scotland, recorded the second and third highest proportions, as 26.0 % and 17.5 % respectively of their non-financial business economy employment was found to be working within the professional, scientific and technical services sector in 2016. Based upon an analysis of the employment shares of each NACE section within the non-financial business economy employment, Inner London West and Inner London East were the only NUTS level 2 regions within the EU-28 (subject to data availability) to report that the professional, scientific and technical services sector was the largest employer.

At the other end of the range, there were 14 NUTS level 2 regions across the EU-28 where the professional, scientific and technical services sector accounted for no more than 5.0 % of the non-financial business economy employment; seven in Romania, four in Bulgaria, two in Poland and one in Lithuania. In other words, all of the Bulgarian regions except for the capital city region of Yugozapaden (8.2 %) and all of the Romanian regions except for the capital city region of Bucuresti - Ilfov (10.3 %) belonged to this group.

Data sources

Coverage

In NACE the following seven divisions are included as part of this sector:

  • legal and accounting activities (Division 69);
  • activities of head offices and management consultancy activities (Division 70);
  • architectural, engineering and technical consultancy services (Division 71);
  • scientific research and development (Division 72);
  • advertising (including direct mailing) and market research (Division 73);
  • other professional, scientific and technical services such as design, photography, translation and interpretation services (Division 74);
  • veterinary services for farm animals and pets (Division 75).

The professional, scientific and technical services sector does not include activities of holding companies that are not engaged in managing (which are classified as a financial activity), while management consultancy does not include educational consultancy activities (which are part of the education sector). Test drilling in connection with mining operations is considered part of the mining and quarrying sector (Section B) rather than technical consultancy.

Data sources

The analysis presented in this article is based on the main dataset for structural business statistics (SBS), size class data and regional data, all of which are published annually.

The main series provides information for each EU Member State as well as a number of non-member countries at a detailed level according to the activity classification NACE. Data are available for a wide range of variables.

In structural business statistics, size classes are generally defined by the number of persons employed. A limited set of the standard structural business statistics variables (for example, the number of enterprises, turnover, persons employed and value added) are analysed by size class, mostly down to the three-digit (group) level of NACE. The main size classes used in this article for presenting the results are:

  • small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): with 1 to 249 persons employed, further divided into;
    • micro enterprises: with less than 10 persons employed;
    • small enterprises: with 10 to 49 persons employed;
    • medium-sized enterprises: with 50 to 249 persons employed;
  • large enterprises: with 250 or more persons employed.

Regional SBS data are available at NUTS levels 1 and 2 for the EU Member States, Iceland and Norway, mostly down to the two-digit (division) level of NACE. The main variable analyzed in this article is the number of persons employed. The type of statistical unit used for regional SBS data is normally the local unit, which is an enterprise or part of an enterprise situated in a geographically identified place. Local units are classified into sectors (by NACE) normally according to their own main activity, but in some EU Member States the activity code is assigned on the basis of the principal activity of the enterprise to which the local unit belongs. The main SBS data series are presented at national level only, and for this national data the statistical unit is the enterprise. It is possible for the principal activity of a local unit to differ from that of the enterprise to which it belongs. Hence, national SBS data from the main series are not necessarily directly comparable with national aggregates compiled from regional SBS.

Context

Many of the services covered within this article could be performed in-house by enterprises themselves, but purchasing (outsourcing) them from service providers enables them to focus on their core activities, taking advantage of the specialization offered by service providers. As such, an efficient and successful professional, scientific and technical services sector can contribute to the overall competitiveness of an economy.

Some professional and technical services are closely regulated by national governments and professional bodies, with restrictions on the number of entrants into the profession, rates charged and billing arrangements, organisational structure of businesses providing these services, exclusive rights enjoyed by practitioners, and the ability to advertise.

The freedom to provide services and the freedom of establishment are central principles to the internal market for services. They guarantee EU enterprises the freedom to establish themselves in other Member States, and the freedom to provide services on the territory of another Member State. The Directive on services in the internal market (COM(2006) 123) aims to achieve a genuine internal market in services, removing legal and administrative barriers to the development of services activities between Member States. As well as covering many professional, scientific and technical services (with the notable exception of services covered by notaries), the Directive applies to a wide variety of services including industrial and construction activities, as well as distributive trades, accommodation and food services, real estate, administrative and support service activities.

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SBS – services (sbs_serv)
Annual detailed enterprise statistics - services (sbs_na_serv)
Annual detailed enterprise statistics for services (NACE Rev. 2 H-N and S95) (sbs_na_1a_se_r2)
SMEs - Annual enterprise statistics by size class - services (sbs_sc_sc)
Services by employment size class (NACE Rev. 2 H-N and S95) (sbs_sc_1b_se_r2)
SBS - regional data - all activities (sbs_r)
SBS data by NUTS 2 regions and NACE Rev. 2 (from 2008 onwards) (sbs_r_nuts06_r2)