Leading industry figures will be linked with schools and colleges to raise awareness of employment opportunities in the sector.

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The Government has backed a major new education programme that aims to support millions of young people considering a career in the creative industries by linking schools and colleges with creative industry figures.

£2m of public money and £12m in-kind industry support has been allocated to the creative careers programme, which hopes to enable meaningful encounters with creative businesses for 160,000 students by 2020, and provide around two million young people across the UK with better online and in-person creative careers advice.

The Government funding will also be used to help creative employers “diversify their workforce and plug skills shortages” by developing apprenticeship standards.

The project, which will be led by industry bodies the Creative Industries Federation (CIF), Creative & Cultural Skills and ScreenSkills, comes amid growing concern about the ‘talent pipeline’ into the creative industries. Recent research has highlighted an ongoing class bias in creative occupations, exacerbated by low and unequal pay, a reliance on unpaid internships, Brexit-related restrictions on movement of talent, and an education policy routinely accused of squeezing arts education out of schools. While CIF has backed away from highlighting the EBacc policy as a particular concern, DCMS minister Margot James last week admitted the policy was partly to blame for a decline of arts in schools.

The creative careers programme emerges out of the creative industries sector deal, part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. It has been criticised for paying scant attention to the arts, in favour of more lucrative types of businesses in the sector. This is despite evidence that the cultural sector, including theatre, galleries and music, have been consistently growing faster than UK economy as a whole. 

The sector deal also includes a £4m programme to scale up creative enterprises in the West Midlands, Bristol and Greater Manchester, and further investments in the ‘Digital Schoolhouse’ programme.

A spokesperson for the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) said: “Together with organisations and individuals across the creative and cultural sectors, we will support teachers, career advisers, parents and guardians, and thousands of young people so that they can better understand our sector and the range of careers within it. 

“The programme will encourage industry to ensure that careers in the creative industries are accessible to all so the next generation of talent can join us, ensuring that we continue to thrive for years to come.”

Creative & Cultural Skills Chief Executive Simon Dancey said: “In partnership with key stakeholders and our world leading creative and cultural industries, we will together support careers advisers, teachers, parents and guardians, and thousands of young people to better understand the sector and the range of careers within it. 

“This ambitious programme will encourage the industry to open its doors, ensuring we are accessible to all so the next generation of talent can join us and help us thrive for years to come.”

Seetha Kumar, CEO of ScreenSkills, added: “It is really important to attract bright young talent into creative industries such as film, TV and video games so we are really pleased to be taking the lead in transforming online careers information for hundreds of thousands of school, college and university students across the country.”