Whether it is the economic factors, or the sociological, our air and sea ports across the UK, and further afield, offer a range of benefits that we simply could not live without in the modern era of freight forwarding. Occasionally, we overlook how important these ports are in relation to our modern lives and everything we use.

Here at FORWARDER we want to champion exactly how important air and sea ports all over the world are to us all. Whether you are a distributor, or your freight forwarding services lands you in ports across the nation, here are our top-five reasons they are so important to us all.

Incredible Supplier of Jobs

The ports sector is estimated to employ 118,200. Of these, 43% worked in either transport or a transport-related activity, with a further 18% employed in cargo handling. These jobs factor into all other aspects of life around the world, providing countries with better means for many other industries.

The workers in the sector are highly productive. The sector’s labour productivity (measured as gross value added divided by employment) is £65,400 per worker within the UK. This is 1.3 times the UK economy’s average. This comes to show that whilst being productive, our ports also are an amazing place to work for many, and give real job satisfaction.

Economic Activity

It is estimated that the ports sector made a £7.7 billion value-added contribution to UK GDP. To put the sector’s contribution to economic output into context, the value it creates is greater than plastic products manufacture and repair of motor vehicles industries and nearly as large as the UK’s advertising industry.

Economic factors play one of the most vital roles in shaping the way in which our country functions and the ports throughout the UK clearly help. There are 51 major ports in the UK and each of them takes in a staggering amount of freight traffic every year, so we must appreciate the hard work that goes on here to shape our economy.

Regional Impacts

Regions have benefitted from having for more than 10,000 people employed by the ports industry: London, South East, North West, Yorkshire & the Humber and Northern Ireland. The ports industry made its largest gross value-added contribution to GDP in Scotland at nearly £2.0 billion in the last few years.

This impact ports have had on regional level is vital for many local economies. It rebuilds our beloved cities from wastelands, into modernised utopias. Manchester’s shipping canals and port ways have revitalised the city over the decades and airports up and down the country have become central hubs for our busy commuter lives.


The UK can boost some of the most reliable port services in the world. 484 million tonnes were handled by UK ports in 2016, and the consensus for the aptitude regarding ports was that of a high level of satisfaction with the freight forwarding community.

A determination to provide quality services in costal ports, and airport hubs up and down the country has lead to the steady growth of the industry year on year, and this growth must, in a way, be contributed to the hard work of individuals up and down the country, striving to make distributors lives easier, and giving consumers a timely, cost effective service.

Multi-level Effects

Ports source a significant proportion of the inputs of goods and services that they procure from UK suppliers, which, in turn, have their own domestic supply chains. People employed within our ports then spend their wages on goods throughout this domestic supply chain, adding back into the economy and increasing the GDP for the UK.

This multi-level aspect of port services throughout the country is a major benefactor into a stable economic growth platform for everyone. This allows the ports sector to help the equivalent to 1 in every 94 jobs in the UK. So, as you can see, ports play a major function within life in the UK. Without the tireless work of both sea and air ports, we would struggle to keep our country functioning.

Matt Dailly, Editor, FORWARDER magazine