Pre-budget release: Back proposals to solve the skills crisis or risk losing Britain's world leading creative businesses

November 20, 2017

The PM’s vision to support industries of the future risks failure because of the growing skills gap faced by the UK's creative industries. The Budget and industrial strategy white paper will acknowledge that skills shortages need to be addressed. While there is a recognition of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) industries and the need for training and education in maths and science, early indications suggest there is a vanishingly small amount of commitment and funding for the UK’s creative industries.  

The Creative Industries Federation is dismayed by this and urges the Prime Minister and Chancellor to support proposals to improve education and careers support which enables our world-leading creative industries to thrive. If government only gives focus to STEM, severe skills shortages faced by Britain’s leading creative businesses will intensify.  

"The creative industries is the fastest growing sector in the UK,” says Federation CEO John Kampfner. “Yet ministers doggedly refuse to see that the success of the past decade was based in strong investment in creative education. It seems as if we are in danger of throwing all that away through absurdly myopic policies."

Federation member, and director of the English National Ballet, Tamara Rojo echoes these fears. "It is astonishing to me to find that the government is not helping provide our creative industries with skilled and educated people. The creative industries are one of the United Kingdom's huge success stories, and the industry employs millions. If this is not supported by a joined-up, well funded education and skills policy our talent will wither and the market for jobs will go elsewhere."

"At Penguin Random House,” says Federation member and CEO Tom Weldon, “we strongly believe that creativity matters to society. Creative people invent, imagine, and solve problems, both big and small.  With the rise of AI, creativity will become more important than ever and it is vital that young people are equipped with the skills and training to meet their creative potential."

The squeeze on skills has been exacerbated by a drop in the provision and take-up of creative subjects in schools (underlined by the EBacc), a lack of careers advice for young people seeking jobs in the sector, and the government's poorly designed apprenticeship scheme.

The Federation - whose members include Penguin Random House, Sony Picturesand the video-games company, Ubisoft - underlines that there are almost 2 million jobs in the UK's creative industries. It is the fastest growing sector, with available jobs increasing at four times the rate of the wider UK workforce. If the sector continues to grow at its current rate, it will create an additional one million new jobs in just over a decade. But severe skills shortages and this refusal to acknowledge that creative education is as key as maths, threatens to hold back this growth, risking the rate of job creation to plummet.  

Of all the barriers to growth, members of the Creative Industries Federation cite skills shortages as number one. A Federation survey of more than 250 creative businesses found that 57% of them are already facing skills shortages, with more than three quarters of these companies saying they are not confident that this issue will be resolved in the next five years.

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