Creative and cultural organisations are struggling to recruit employees with fundraising and business support skills, a new report reveals.
A “desperate need” for skills like fundraising, business support and marketing within creative and cultural organisations has been laid bare by new research.
In a report by CRE Research for Creative and Cultural Skills (CC Skills) and Arts Council England (ACE), a third of creative businesses identified a skills gap in their organisation.
The research also reveals concerns about whether schools are adequately preparing students for creative careers, with more than two-thirds of cultural organisations believing that not enough young people are studying creative subjects at school.
Gaps and shortages
The research examined organisations of all sizes in areas falling under ACE’s stewardship, including music and dance groups, theatres and museums. It considers both skills gaps – where proficiency in a given area is lacking within an organisation’s current workforce – and skills shortages, meaning capacities that businesses across the sector struggle to recruit for.
33% of creative businesses identified a skills gap, with the most common gaps being in business marketing and communication skills (53%), and general problem-solving skills (48%). 44% of businesses identified a fundraising skills gap.
Similarly, more than 3 in 10 creative businesses reported skills shortages. The biggest areas where there is difficulty recruiting are business support operations (45%) and fundraising (44%)
The report notes that 94% of arts businesses have no employees, compared to a UK average of 76%, adding that smaller organisations are less likely to invest in continuous professional development.
Similarly, it says, businesses in the creative and cultural industries “tend not to think strategically about their current and future skills needs” and that many only access training “when an immediate need arises”.
It also suggests that “poor initial education and training” in creative subjects, combined with “inadequate careers education and guidance”, contributes to long-standing skills shortages. The authors argue that this situation is exacerbated by the prevalence of unpaid internships and networking as routes into the sector, narrowing opportunities for non-graduates and people from lower socio-economic groups.
Reflecting on future skills needs, the majority (59%) of creative businesses disagreed with the view that more young people will leave education with the right creative skills to succeed in the sector. Just under 70% also said they thought not enough young people were studying arts and creative subjects at school.
The report notes the importance of ‘resilience skills’, such as a willingness to develop new operating models and diversify income streams, and more distributed models of leadership to give individuals the autonomy to take decisions.
There are concerns in the sector about Brexit, with 53% of respondents saying that the UK leaving the European Union would have a strong negative impact. Non-UK citizens fulfil important roles in sub-sectors such as publishing and IT, according the report.
“Given this uncertainty, it will be important to ensure that creative and cultural businesses receive support to address skills gaps and shortages through training and recruitment and that business leaders in particular are equipped with the skills they need to adapt and respond to change,” say the authors.
“The incredible success of the UK’s arts and cultural sector has resulted in a desperate need for digital, managerial and technical skills,” Karen Newman, Interim CEO of Creative & Cultural Skills (CC Skills), told AP.
“As this report sets out, we need to upskill our current workforce, but also establish measures like apprenticeships to ensure that the future workforce is properly equipped with the skills to build a creative nation.”