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A popular wage-subsidy programme will not see its funding renewed, although the opening of a new National College leaves Creative & Cultural Skills positive about employment support for young people.

Sherice and Pauline Tambline
LTC apprentice of the year Sherice Pitter and Pauline Tambling CBE

The future of employment support for young people in the arts is unclear, as a grant programme covering the costs of apprentices and interns comes to an end with no current plans for renewal.

The £15m Creative Employment Programme – open for applications since March 2013 – has helped 1,200 organisations in England create more than 4,500 apprenticeships, internships and work opportunities in the creative industries for young unemployed people aged 16-24, according to provider Creative & Cultural Skills.

But once the three-year programme comes to an end in July there will be no more grants awarded.

Current apprentices will be able to stay with funded organisations until their contracts end, but then will have to move on unless offered a new contract by their employer.

A popular programme

Discussion around the future of apprenticeships in the cultural sector formed a key strand at Creative & Cultural Skills’ national conference yesterday, which celebrated “the success of [the scheme] getting young people into work and training”. 400 delegates from the arts and wider creative industries discussed the benefits that apprentices had brought to their organisations and urged others to support similar intern and apprenticeship programmes.

While larger organisations such as the Roundhouse have signalled a clear intention to continue employing interns and apprentices, even without support from the Creative Employment Programme, others have expressed concerns about the loss of funding.

Lisa Byrne, Creative Learning Manager at the Cambridge Junction – which takes on four apprentices a year – told AP: “We will of course feel the impact of not having the grant any longer but as we are committed to this work we will try our very best to ensure that our apprenticeship programme can continue in the same way.”

A changing landscape

Creative & Cultural Skills Chief Executive Pauline Tambling remains positive about the future of apprenticeships in the creative industries despite the “changing landscape” of employment support for young people.

She said: “Because of the Creative Employment Programme, the business case for apprenticeships has been made and resoundingly proven. The message is clear: creative businesses can no longer afford to ignore this route of recruiting and training their future workforce.”

Among the changes in the landscape will be the opening of a new National College in September. According to Tambling it will become “a new national provider that can help small creative businesses across the UK employ and train the next generation of talent”. 

The first cohort of 20 students will take part in a one-year, employer-designed Diploma in Technical and Production, which will provide specialist training in the skills needed by the creative and cultural industries. The students will work with dance company Re:Bourne in their first term.

As the College grows it will offer: 

  • High-level Professional Diplomas (level 4) for those aged 18 plus
  • Residential accommodation
  • Student support facilities
  • New creative business units.

Catherine Large, leading the National College development for Creative & Cultural Skills, said: “Creative & Cultural Skills has partnerships with major employers and 45 Further Education Colleges across the country with whom we intend to work on this new initiative…The key is to design new curriculum and apprenticeship standards that meet employer needs and work together to support new entrants in to jobs in the industry.”