There has never been a more opportune time to produce a strategic plan for the development of arts workers across the UK, says Jane Fear.
The new workforce development plan (WDP) will be used to talk to the many new and influential agencies willing to listen to the needs of the sector. The Arts and Entertainment WDP has been produced by Metier after extensive consultation and research. It prioritises action for meeting the sector?s key training needs. The aim of establishing these priorities is to plan for collaborative action between employers and other stakeholders, such as funding bodies or training providers. There are six priorities for action, relating to entry to the workforce, workforce development and organisational development.
? Supporting non-graduate entry to the sector: the sector offers few opportunities for on-the-job training. By opening up new opportunities the sector will be able to support greater diversity in workplace and vocational skills development. The arts sector is dominated by small businesses and this makes it difficult to set up and run training especially for school-leavers. However the establishment of new Apprenticeship funding and a review of Vocational A-levels will give arts organisations new opportunities for recruitment.
? Transition from education into the workforce: the arts sector is a complex one. The wide range of skills and knowledge needed to succeed can be daunting. Most people joining the sector find it hard to get the support they need. A lack of practical content and work experience from colleges is compounded by unrealistic expectations from employers about what can be achieved in a job role. The new two-year Foundation Degrees will also ensure that curriculum content reflects the realities of working in the arts. New Graduate Apprenticeships offer six-month bridging programmes after graduation, to obtain work-related skills and knowledge. Metier?s online guidance and learning programme gives targeted business training to those seeking a career in the sector.
? Continuing professional development (CPD) : the arts sector has started to debate its approach to CPD. Wherever possible, this should be linked to validated programmes. The sector learning target encourages 45 minutes of structured development each week for everyone working in the sector. The Creative People CPD project aims to bring structured advice and guidance to the arts and entertainment sector, which will strengthen it through the development of the people working in it.
? Work-related qualifications: there is a need to review and rationalise the 5,500 work-based qualifications available in the sector, and the content of study programmes should be brought in line with industry needs. The style and content of the new S/NVQs has made them easier to understand. Other projects to develop occupational maps of different roles within the sector will help to define the individual?s need for skills enhancement and will link into structured CPD schemes.
? The development and adoption of suitable benchmarking tools: few arts organisations have formal approaches to benchmarking against other similar organisations. Some benchmarks work across all sectors, such as Investors in People. There is now an Investors in People benchmarking toolkit available for organisations to pull together evidence of their commitment to training and developing their staff. Metier has now secured funds to develop skills benchmarking tools for individuals. These will help practitioners prioritise their learning needs in relation to the real challenges contained in the industry.
? Capacity building programmes for micro-businesses and small and medium-size enterprises: arts organisations are predominately very small business units and now have considerably more challenges placed on them in terms of broader areas of work, such as audience development, niche marketing, work to counter social exclusion, education work and many other competing priorities. To be able to deliver effectively in many of these areas there is a need for a structured increase in investment into the infrastructure, on a regional and sub-regional level. The Yorkshire Continuum project is an excellent example of where such an injection of direct funding into organisations can reap enormous rewards in terms of individual development. The Continuum is designed to support organisations and individuals in increasing their capacity in relation to training and building new skills. The digitisation of web-based materials supported through the New Opportunities Fund will create a resource of over 10,000 pages of web-based information developed by nine sector organisations.
Jane Fear is Head of Research at Metier, the National Training Organisation for the Arts and Entertainment Sector, which is charged with leading the sector in issues relating to vocational training and education. Metier undertakes research, standards and qualifications development, online learning and guidance. t: 01274 738800 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: http://www.metier.org.uk