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An ArtsProfessional feature in partnership with Creative and Cultural Skills

Sara Whybrew explains how employers across the creative industries are making sure there’s a new generation of skilled workers heading their way.

A photo of two young people next to a stage light

Teaching Theatre Pathways/Oldham Coliseum Theatre

“Our aim is to inspire young people and highlight the various career paths in theatre; from creative learning to finance to marketing to stage management – a career in theatre does not necessarily mean your options are limited to performing on stage. We believe there is a job pathway for everyone in theatre”.

This is just one quote from many Creative and Cultural Skills (CC Skills) has received from across the creative industries since launching the Creative Careers Programme earlier this year. It comes from the team at Sunderland Empire, who will be opening their doors this November as part of Discover! Creative Careers Week.

Taking place from 18 -22 November, Discover! Creative Careers Week will see over 500 creative industries employers opening their doors to thousands of local students, to give them a taste of the types of roles available and advise them on the various pathways into those jobs.

We need more young people to choose a career in our world-leading sector

Since we announced the project a few months ago, we’ve been overwhelmed by the number of organisations wanting to invest their time and resources into giving young people these vital experiences. We’ve got businesses across the whole creative industries involved, including design agencies in Leeds, architecture practices in Newcastle, games companies in London, numerous National Trust properties across England, film studios in Soho, creative clusters in Blackpool and many, many more.

Lack of information

As someone who has worked within the cultural sector for over 15 years, I’ve become increasingly frustrated by the lack of information available to young people about the huge variety of careers within our flourishing industries. There’s often a focus on the more obvious job roles (such as actors, musicians, writers, and directors) but we all know there are thousands of other hugely rewarding jobs out there – and not just for those who are ‘creative’.

“Marketing, conservation and people skills are all important and vital to helping our creative economy grow. We believe it is vital that young people from all backgrounds are able to consider a creative career and can see the different routes into this line of work.” – Towner Gallery, Eastbourne

This isn’t just a case of being frustrated by the lack of information, though. A report commissioned by the Creative Industries Council in 2017 estimated that there were 77,000 positions currently vacant, or where better skills are needed. With the creative industries growing three times faster than the UK economy as a whole – and with 900,000 new jobs predicted by 2030 – we need more young people to choose a career in our world-leading sector. Furthermore, there is a vast lack of diversity in the industry. 90% of creative industry jobs are occupied by more advantaged socio-economic groups, and we continue to be dominated by graduates, despite many roles not actually needing a degree.

Creating opportunities

This is why we’re working with our partners at Screen Skills and the Creative Industries Federation to deliver this industry-led programme. Creating opportunities for young people from all backgrounds to interact and gain hands-on experience with the workforce is at the heart of it. Evidence cited in the Government’s Careers Strategy reveals that a young person who has four or more encounters with an employer is 86% less likely to be unemployed or not in education or training, and can earn up to 18% more during their career.

“At Northern Ballet, we are passionate about creating opportunities for local young people to find out about the range of opportunities in the arts, particularly in roles they may not have considered or even know exist.” Northern Ballet, Leeds

We know that there are many employers across the creative industries already running successful career insight programmes, such as Pinewood Studios and regional theatres like The New Wolsey in Ipswich. Discover! Creative Careers Week is an opportunity to bring this work together and celebrate the huge impact it has on the young people involved. It’s also a great entry point for employers who may never have hosted young people in their business before. Our regional Partnership Managers have been working closely with these teams to help shape their Discover! events. Activities delivered during Discover! Creative Week will include interactive tours, workshops, talks and panel discussions, speed networking, ‘The Apprentice’-style challenges and much more.

Supporting the activities is the Creative Careers Programme’s recently launched careers finder, Discovercreative.careers. This ‘one stop shop’ website has been designed to help students and their parents, guardians and teachers find out more about careers in the creative industries and routes into them. By filtering searches according to individual interests, the website produces a personalised selection of potential roles, from a 3D Modelling Artist in the games industry to a Theatre Education Manager.

Want to get involved? Registrations for Discover! Creative Careers Week are now closed, but there are plenty of other ways you can support the Creative Careers Programme – find out more at Discovercreative.careers.

Sara Whybrew is Programme Director (England) at CC Skills.
Tw @CCSkills

This article, sponsored and contributed by Creative & Cultural Skills, is part of a series promoting apprenticeships and challenging entrenched social inequalities, to create a more diverse workforce.

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Photo of Sara Whybrew