Creative Careers – Is the talent pipeline broken? Can we fix it? Yes, we can!
Earlier this year, in June 2023, the government announced, ‘Ambitious plans to grow the economy and boost UK creative industries by £50 billion’ and ‘support a million more jobs by 2030, with £77m of new funding for the sector’ (Gov.uk 2023).
This could be a real shot in the arm for cultural and economic growth in the UK however, do we have the requisite pipeline of talent to make this a reality? Having attended numerous meetings in creative industries and educational forums, this is often raised as a concern by many. Effective and practical solutions to enhance the creative industries talent pipeline can be elusive, but in this short article I can tell you about one we have found.
A pivotal moment
Whilst I feel it is important to nurture creativity throughout the entire educational pathway, one of the critical points where creative pursuits may be jeopardised is in Year 9, when young people are required to choose their GCSE subjects. This is a pivotal moment, potentially setting wheels in motion for the direction of travel for the rest of their lives. Hence, we need to help young people make informed decisions to help them choose the right career path for them, so they can live their ‘best lives’.
About a year and a half ago, I was invited to chair the Preston LCEP. Shortly after my joining, the LCEP turned our attention to planning a ‘Creative Careers’ event for Year 9 pupils, with the group having already run a successful event pre-Pandemic.
Working in concert to make things happen
Our LCEP is comprised of educators from a number of different educational establishments, members of cultural institutions including the Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library, the Lancashire Music Service, the University of Central Lancashire, people from local and regional authorities services, et al. Everyone in the team brings something very special to the table.
With regards to the date for our event, what better time than ‘Discover! Creative Careers Week‘ (which this year falls between the 13th and 17th November).
As for choosing a venue it was very handy to have a university involved as typically, they have plenty of large, well equipped, spaces.
Our LCEP membership reached out to their networks, drumming up enough schools and academies to run a morning and an afternoon session.
There were three main parts to the event, the first being an Introduction to Creative Careers, a talk from our event host, Holly Ball from Curious Minds. This opened the door to many different career possibilities for our young audience.
Part two very simply brought six super interesting people from different aspects of the Creative Industries, just to talk about what they do, how they started and their career journeys.
The final part involved setting a creative task for the attendees, splitting the cohort up into groups. The aim of this was really to get the young people being creative, sharing ideas, and having fun. Each group had a different role/ task, and we asked them to work on a festival idea.
Having friends can help a shoestring budget go quite far, and one of our member institutions was able to underpin lunch for contributors and refreshments for our young guests. Many of the panellists were able to attend and contribute as part of their ‘day jobs’, we also involved freelancers, who gave their time in kind, despite our insistence on offering payment.
Understanding our impact
Feedback from the events was gathered from all schools and the young people attending. This was overwhelmingly positive with literally everyone saying they had a great day. Subsequent feedback indicated a significant increase in numbers of attendees opting for creative GCSE subjects in relation to the previous year. In some cases, capacity had to be increased.
Am I saying that this event was responsible for the increase? No. My personal view is that the main driver is the inspirational and dedicated teachers of creative subjects in the schools and academies. I’d like to think, based on feedback, that our creative careers event was contributory. Doing it again this year will give us a more data, and maybe if others try something similar, we can compare notes.
Could we have done a better job? Well, there is always room for improvement. We deduced it is important to make sure there is a good balance of different creative careers represented on the panels. Our event last year had a slight leaning towards music, in part due to the availability of our networks and an unavoidable late cancellation of a panellist. We have rectified that for this year and also increased capacity, with a view to doing two days instead of the one we did last year.
Risking stating the obvious, getting the ball rolling early is greatly advantageous. Schools have lots of logistical considerations such as timetabling, supervision resources and transportation to juggle.
Looking forward to our 2023 event, I hope we can help more young people make informed and balanced decisions about their futures.
Link to source:
Gov.uk (2023). ‘Ambitious plans to grow the economy and boost creative industries’, Gov.uk, 13 June 2023, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ambitious-plans-to-grow-the-economy-and-boost-creative-industries, accessed 3 October 2023.
Tony Rigg is a Music Industry Advisor/ Business Consultant, Practitioner, and Educator who co-founded the Master of Arts Programme in Music Industry Management at UCLan. He has occupied senior management roles in market-leading organisations including Operations Director for Ministry of Sound, overseen the management of more than one hundred music venues and delivered thousands of music events. As an artist/ producer he has a chart pedigree with tracks featured on chart-topping and gold-selling albums. Notable publications include Popular Music in the Post-digital Age: Politics, Economy, Culture and Technology (Bloomsbury 2018), The Future of Live Music (Bloomsbury 2020), The Evolution of Electronic Dance Music (Bloomsbury 2021), and The Present and Future of Music Law (Bloomsbury 2021). Tony chairs Preston’s LCEP and a number of other culture related projects/ organisations.