Industrial strategy - a step in the right direction but much more needed on skills
November 27, 2017

The Government has today published its industrial strategy white paper, which paves the way for new measures to grow the UK’s economy across the country. The Business Secretary, Greg Clark, reaffirms his commitment to Britain’s world-leading sectors, including the creative industries. 

The white paper is a step in the right direction, including a number of important levers for the creative industries and wider economy. However, we are deeply concerned that these positive moves will be undermined by a lack of ambition from government in terms of skills policy. In the meantime, continued uncertainty over Brexit looms large.

It is good to see greater understanding of our sector in the final version of the white paper, which follows the Federation’s public and behind-the-scenes advocacy in the run up to its publication and in response to a disappointing Budget. There is now recognition across Whitehall that the creative industries are growing at twice the rate of the economy as a whole, and reference has been made to our sector’s reliance on STEM skills. 

The £33m for an ‘audiences of the future’ fund to support immersive tech is also welcome. Together with the AHRC’s creative industries clusters programme, this brings the funding secured for direct innovation investment in the creative industries to over £110m. The Federation and its members played a key role in securing this.

The white paper provides more detail on the Cultural Development Fund, which will provide investment to culture and the creative industries with the aim of boosting regeneration and local growth. It also reaffirms government’s intention to agree a special ‘deal’ with the sector shortly, featuring policies tailored to the needs of creative businesses. 

However, there are still two major threats that the white paper does not address: the impact of Brexit and creative education. It fails to recognise that the drop in creative education is a major threat to the growth of our sector and wider economy, which is particularly disappointing.

Severe skills shortages and government’s refusal to acknowledge that creative education is as key to our economy as maths education threatens to hold back this growth and send the rate of job creation plummeting - together with prospects for the UK’s economy. The Federation calls on government to remedy this immediately. 

Government has called on sectors like ours to take the lead in combatting barriers to growth, and we embrace this challenge. The Federation will continue to argue for proposals including a creative freelance visa, as proposed in our Global Talent Report, and lead on the delivery of a Creative Careers Campaign to promote jobs in the sector to the widest next generation of talent.

Read our full response to the earlier green paper here.

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