One of the things that continue to captivate me as a freelance writer and editor within business, is that the largest global industries of the recent decade or century may not be the largest in the coming decade or century. The automotive and manufacturing industry, for example, experienced a great boom in the late 1800s to the early 1900s, with Henry Ford leading the production of new cars, and Andrew Carnegie supplying the steel that enabled America’s many railroads to be built.
Now, however, Information Technology and Aerospace seem to become more and more important, as business moguls like Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk are taking us into the future. This is not to say that the automotive and manufacturing industry are becoming redundant – not by any means – but rather, to prove that the world of industry is constantly changing.
So what are the largest global industries right now? The following is a list of 10 of the most likely candidates.
1. Oil and Gas
The oil and gas industry was one of the first to be transformed by the digital revolution. More than 50 years ago, Schlumberger invented a new way to measure water depth and was able to provide an accurate measurement without having to send down divers.
Since then, the oil and gas industry has been at the forefront of digital innovation as it has seen a shift from fossil fuel-based energy production, such as coal and natural gas, to alternative energy sources such as solar power. One company fighting climate change is Oil Change International (OCI) – they offer services such as lobbying governments on climate policy and activism work. OCI aims at pushing for more renewable energy sources like wind and solar power in order achieve a sustainable future for our planet, which is one of the attempts to reduce the oil and gas sector, and instead bring the renewable energy sector into the fore.
2. The Automotive Industry
The automotive industry is one of the world’s largest global industries. It has a large impact on economies all around the world, generating trillions in revenues and employing about 18 million people directly or indirectly. The automotive industry encompasses the design, production, marketing, distribution and sale of motor vehicles, motorcycles, trucks and buses.
Healthcare is one of the largest global industries in the world, with over $8.8 trillion in total spending. The industry is continuing to rapidly grow, both in terms of revenue and jobs. As the increasingly large populations are starting to age, prognostic research has shown that this will lead to an increase in healthcare spending. The industry also has a high level of competition for patients’ time and money – whether it be communal services or private dental and physiotherapy clinics.
Telecommunications is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. It has grown tenfold since the 1980s, and is expected to grow even faster in the next decade.
5. Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals
Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals is one of the largest global industries in the world. It is a $2 trillion market with an annual growth rate of 6%. The industry has especially seen significant growth in emerging markets like India, China, and Russia.
6. Aerospace and Defense
In the United States alone, the Aerospace and Defense industry employs more than two million people and contributes about 5% of all U.S. manufacturing output. The industry’s economic impact in the United States is substantial, with aerospace and defense firms directly supporting well over one million jobs in the country.
7. Information Technology Services
Information Technology Services (IT) are taking over the world at an increasingly rapid rate, and is largely dominated by companies like Accenture, Atos, Capgemini and IBM.
The construction industry should not be forgotten, as it employs nearly one fifth of all workers globally. It is growing at an annual rate of about 2%, and features every kind of job related to building new homes, company buildings, roads, bridges – anything you can think of that has to be built by someone.
The retail industry is one of the largest global industries in the world, generating over $5 trillion dollars annually. Retailers are responsible for managing inventory, ensuring that products are shipped to stores efficiently, and promoting merchandise to customers.
10. Banking and Finance
Despite the great structural changes and downsizing that is happening within banking and finance, given increasing automation, the industry has a global trade value of over $11 trillion, and will continue to house a staggering number of work places in the coming years as well.
That’s a quick look at 10 of the largest global industries that are governing the world market right now – but don’t expect it to last; as mentioned in the introduction, we will always be seeing new industries emerge and take hold of the power handle.