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43,000 new workers will be needed to support Scotland’s creative industries over the next ten years, according to a new report identifying key issues facing the sector.

Photo of a man on stilts
A performer at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Edinburgh Blog (CC BY 2.0)

An action plan to enhance the economic value and worldwide reputation of Scotland’s creative industries is proposing a series of measures for tackling the skills gaps in the sector, improving diversity and better preparing the future workforce. The Creative Skills Investment Plan from Skills Development Scotland (SDS) highlights the need for the industry to work closely with education bodies to adopt a “multi-faceted and flexible approach” to supporting the sector’s future.

The creative industries are worth more than £5bn to the Scottish economy and employ around 68,600 people. The report estimates that 43,000 new workers will be required over the next 10 years to fill new roles and replace those leaving the sector. Women are underrepresented, making up 38% of the current workforce. Those of black, Asian, and minority ethnic origin account for just 5% and the same proportion have a disability, significantly lower than the national average.

Key actions in the three-year plan include:

  • Establishing a development programme for creative leaders and producers in the digital, creative and performing arts
  • Establishing a programme of support for creative businesses seeking to grow in domestic and international markets
  • Establishing a ‘Young Creatives’ ambassadors programme to promote diversity and encourage young people to consider a job in the creative industries
  • Conducting a review of the Modern Apprenticeships programme to see how it may be expanded
  • Promoting employment opportunities and career management skills for creative graduates.

The action plan has been designed to meet the needs of a growing sector made up of many micro-businesses, self-employed and freelance workers. It highlights the need to build a workforce with strong business and entrepreneurial skills. According to SDS, employers also report a need for workers with strong communication and digital skills.

Broadly it states there is a need to include more “practical and work-based learning” in education, to better prepare young people for work in the creative industries. It found that employment rates for creative industries graduates are below average and raises concerns over a “significant decline” in the number of students studying degrees in creative arts, crafts and performing arts subjects. SDS identifies promoting “creativity as a core component of learning at statutory and tertiary levels of education, as being central to individual, social, cultural and business development”.

Gordon McGuinness, Deputy Director of Industry and Enterprise Networks at SDS, said: “The diverse and competitive nature of Scotland’s Creative Industries sector means that entrants need a wide variety of skills to be successful. That ranges from the core skills of any one sub-sector to broader abilities in areas such as business, digital skills and career management.”

The plan was developed in consultation with bodies from across the creative industries, including employers, trade unions, education institutions and other public sector agencies. McGuinness continued: “The Skills Investment Plan offers a framework to further develop those skills, and SDS will work with the full range of employers and industry stakeholders across the sector in aiding its delivery.” A ‘Creative Industries Skills Forum’ will operate for an initial three-year period to oversee and monitor the implementation of the plan.

A photo of Frances Richens