John Kampfner, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation, said: “The Budget rightly recognised the need for an education system fit for the economic challenges of the 21st century but the devil will be in the detail of the new T-levels.
“This new qualification needs to be considered in the context of the skills shortages in the creative sector and the potential for growth in the creative industries.
“New investment in digital infrastructure is welcome, but we remain worried that the role the creative industries play in innovation is being overlooked by the emphasis on innovation in science and tech.
“We are concerned about the changes to national insurance contributions because the creative industries have a higher proportion of self-employed than other sectors and many of them are not highly paid.
“Education, innovation and the working practices of the creative workforce - all in the context of ensuring growth across the whole of the country - need to be properly addressed in the new industrial strategy.
“We are examining them in our own work on the government’s industrial strategy which we believe has the potential to deliver even greater growth and success to our renowned creative sector.”
The government rightly recognises that the UK is a world leader in science and innovation but its focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects fails to recognise that the creative industries, such as design and architecture, are key to unlocking innovation and equally internationally-renowned.
The creative sector is also currently excluded from bidding for money from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which is designed to address the future needs of UK industries.
TAX CHANGES FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED
Tax changes for the self-employed, like the changes in business rates, need to be properly analysed so that they are truly fair and do not damage growth.
Freelance workers are incredibly important to the creative industries but their working practices and needs are very little understood in policy terms. We are currently surveying our members to be able to explain this further, and will be feeding into the review being carried out by Matthew Taylor of the RSA into employment practices in the coming months.
The devil will be in the detail but the principle of creating a 21st century workforce and giving parity to technical skills in the education system could be a step forward. Creative and design is one of the proposed 15 T-levels.
But this new qualification needs to be considered in the context of the skills shortages in the creative sector and the potential for growth in the creative industries.
The broader announcements on investment in schools distracts from the major issue of what is taught within them. It is possible to be deemed “outstanding” by Ofsted without offering any creative subjects whatsoever in academies and free schools which do not have to follow the curriculum. Young people will not be able to pursue careers in the creative economy, which already includes one in 11 of the workforce, if they do not study creative subjects in school.
As part of our work on the industrial strategy, where we are holding meetings nationwide to produce a response to the green paper, we will examine the details of the deal struck with Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, and the Midlands Engine strategy due this week.
On business rates, we would encourage local authorities to think strategically about the type of businesses that might benefit through the £300m discretionary relief fund. Evidence shows that modest support for creative organisations can encourage creative clusters and drive growth across the country.
Our recent paper, ‘Because the night - Why what happens after dark matters to the creative industries,’ highlighted the importance of a vibrant night-time economy to the wider creative sector so we give a cautious welcome to support for pubs and the business rate caps.