Creative industries in Northern Ireland

Creative businesses and employment in Northern Ireland


Creative industries are emerging as one of the fastest developing and increasingly important sectors of the UK economy. They are recognised as one of the key economic drivers for future growth in Northern Ireland.

Creative employment in Northern Ireland

The Department for Communities (DfC) estimates the number of people in creative employment in 2017 in Northern Ireland at 25,000, or 3.1 per cent of the local workforce.

Creative employment covers:

  • employees and self-employed individuals in creative industries
  • employees and self-employed individuals doing creative jobs outside creative industries

Those working in creative employment in Northern Ireland tend to be highly qualified, with a large percentage holding a degree level qualification or equivalent.

Northern Ireland universities, Further and Higher Education colleges and Northern Ireland Skillset Media Academy are ensuring a steady supply of skilled, work-ready recruits.

Creative businesses in Northern Ireland

In 2015, there were 3,100 creative businesses in Northern Ireland, accounting for 5.1 per cent of all business units in Northern Ireland. The number of creative enterprises increased by 6 per cent in 2016 compared with 2015.

There were a total of around 60,900 businesses in Northern Ireland in 2016, an increase of 2% in 2015. In addition, there was a slight increase in the proportion of creative enterprises relative to all businesses in Northern Ireland (4.9 per cent to 5.1 per cent).

Almost two-fifths of all creative industries in Northern Ireland in 2016 were in IT, software and computer services group. Architecture and Film, TV, video, radio and photography comprise around 13 per cent of all creative industries in Northern Ireland, followed by Advertising and marketing, and Design and designer fashion at around 10 per cent.

Economic impact of creative industries in Northern Ireland

Gross Value Added (GVA) for the creative industries was £1,088 million in 2017, representing 2.7 per cent of Northern Ireland's total GVA. In absolute terms, GVA for the creative industries increased by 8 per cent between 2016 and 2017 (£1,008 million to £1,088 million), compared to a 5 per cent increase for total GVA. Overall, GVA for the creative industries has generally increased over the trend period from 2010 to 2017.

Among the creative industries groups, IT software and computer services provided the greatest contribution to Northern Ireland GVA (£647 million). This group also provided the largest annual average increase over 2010 - 2017 at 12 per cent, as well as the greatest increase in GVA compared with 2016 (13 per cent).

The Department for Communities issues a bulletin with detailed statistics and key economic estimates for the creative industries for Northern Ireland. See the latest available bulletin for 2019 creative industries statistics.