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Employment figures

March 2, 2021
Published on:
December 16, 2019
January 24, 2021

Creative industries growth surge continues

Creative industries continued to power the growth of the UK's workforce last year, adding new posts at twice the rate of the rest of the economy, according to official data.

With an estimated 2,040,000 jobs - 75 per cent of them outside London - the UK's creative industries are developing new jobs faster than other sectors despite record employment in the UK economy as a whole.

In 2018 the creative industries grew jobs by 1.6 per cent, compared to the UK-wide employment increase of 0.8 per cent. Between 2011 and 2018, creative industries employment has mushroomed by 30.6 per cent, compared to the UK average growth of 10.1 per cent during that period.

The creative industries account for half a million more jobs than the digital sectors, although there is some overlap between the two in the official data and the intersection of creative skills and technology, known as CreaTech, is one of the most exciting parts of the economy.  

In the wider creative economy, which counts creative occupations in other sectors to roles specifically in the creative industries, the total number of UK jobs is 3.2m or 9.6 per cent of all UK jobs (by comparison, the wider digital economy accounts for 2.2m jobs or 6.8 per cent of all roles).

DCMS 2018 Creative Jobs
Source: 2018 DCMS Economic Estimates

People looking to join the creative industries can use a creative careers website to research a role for them.

Critical issues identified for UK creative employment

A report from the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) has profiled the skills and diversity challenges facing the creative industries. These areas represent a mixture of short and long-term challenges, and cover both working practices and development of creative skills.

The nine areas are:

  • Job Quality: While there is growing data on the number of creative industries jobs, there is little insight into the quality of these jobs
  • Strategic skills needs: There is a need for an accurate, coherent and up to date view of which careers and skills will be in greatest demand in the future
  • The value of creative education: There is a need to find ways to capture better the value of creative education
  • Pipeline of talent: Better visibility into the talent pipeline and into career progression is required
  • Creative professional development: the industry needs better understanding of opportunities for professional development and learning
  • Productivity and management practices: There is a dearth of evidence about productivity in the creative industries
  • Tackling the diversity challenge: Better evidence is needed on the representation of all minority groups, and for data that goes beyond participation to explore quality of work
  • Local talent pools: The UK is lacking evidence on local skills and talent pipelines and how these meet the needs of local businesses.

Download report

Published: December 2019

About 1 in 8 UK businesses is in creative industries

The creative industries accounted for 284,400 businesses - or just over one in eight of all UK businesses - in 2016, with almost 18 per cent having traded internationally compared to the average figure for international trading of 12.9 per cent across all UK business sectors.

The statistics from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, (DCMS) highlight the opportunity to scale up creative industries businesses. Approximately 94 per cent are micro-businesses employing fewer than 10 staff, and 87.6 per cent have a turnover of less than £250,000 a year. Other DCMS sectors, such as telecoms, tourism, and gambling, have a higher proportion of businesses in the larger turnover bracket compared to the creative industries.

The Creative Industries Council has made scaling up creative businesses a key part of its five year growth strategy for these industries.

Despite often being relatively modest in size, though, creative industries businesses are often involved in international trade, with just over 50,000 creative businesses either exporting or importing in 2016. Of this figure, an estimated 38,300 creative businesses exported, whilst 28,100 imported and some 16,500 did both.

Although the proportion of creative businesses trading internationally is higher than the UK average across all sectors, it is lower than in other DCMS sectors such as telecoms (30.5 per cent) or the cultural sector (24.5 per cent). This further underlines the opportunities for UK creative businesses to grow their export activities, in particular.

Source: DCMS Economic Estimates

Published: July 2018

Creative jobs outgrow UK economy average

Employment in the UK creative industries is growing at four times the rate of the UK workforce as whole, according to latest official statistics from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The number of jobs in the UK's creative industries rose by 5 per cent in 2016, compared to the 1.2 per cent increase in the wider UK workforce. Almost 2m people are now employed in the UK's creative organisations, with a wider number of 3.04m making up the creative economy which also includes creative roles in non-creative organisations.

Source: DCMS Sector Estimates: Employment & Trade, July 2017.

Also see our Jobs infographic.

Inward Investment Boosts UK Creative Economy

The UK creative industries, including ICT, attracted 558 Foreign & Direct Investment Projects in 2015/6 - an increase of 15 per cent over the previous period, with the number of associated jobs rising by 7 per cent from 13,590 to 14,556.

Source: Inward Investment Report 2015/16, Department for International Trade.

Published: September 2016.

Creative Jobs and Exports Outpace Rest of UK Economy

The creative economy added new jobs at more than twice the UK economy average and creative exports grew more than four times faster, according to new official statistics. Download infographics.

Total employment in the UK creative economy - the sum of jobs in the creative industries plus creative occupations in other industries - rose by 5.1 per cent in 2015 to 2.9m. Within the creative industries specifically, the number of jobs rose by 3.2 per cent to 1.9m.

By comparison, average UK employment only rose by 2 per cent during the same period.

The value of services exported by the UK creative industries rose by 10.9 per cent to total £19.8bn in 2014.

Across the UK economy as a whole, the value of all service exports rose by a more modest 2.3 per cent during the same period.

Creative services now account for 9 per cent of all UK service exports - a higher figure than the contribution the creative industries make to the domestic economy (5.2 per cent).  

Source: Creative Industries: Focus on Employment, DCMS.

Published: July 2016.

creative Skillset publishes Employment survey

Data on the regional and ethnic characteristics of creative industries employment has been published in the 2015 Creative Skillset Employment Survey.

The responses to the survey covered 147,050 creative jobs, compared to 107,300 when the previous survey was conducted by the organisation in 2012. The survey collated responses from the TV, radio, film, post-production, V-FX, animation and games sectors. It estimated that freelancers accounted for an average of 43 per cent of employment across all the featured sectors, with women occupying an average of 39 per cent of positions.

Source: Creative Skillset

Published: March 2016.

creative media staff hit education record

The latest edition of the Creative Media Workforce Survey has recorded the highest level of education, with 78 per cent of respondents possessing degrees and 27 per cent educated to post-graduate level.

Among BAME and women respondents the figures were even higher at 83 per cent and 81 per cent. In the general UK workforce, an average of 32 per cent of people have undergraduate degrees.

The survey also showed that 56 per cent of creative media respondents found current or recent roles informally and 77 per cent had done unpaid work experience.

Almost 5,000 responses were gathered from media industries including TV, film, radio, visual effects, games, animation and cinema exhibition. The survey has been conducted by Creative Skillset in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2010.

Published: May 26, 2015.

Nesta Interactive Visualisations

Nesta has created a series of interactive data visualisations of the UK creative economy. This includes visualisations of who hires creatives, a geographical map of the creative industries and a visualisation of the creative economy workforce.

Creative Skillset Employment Census 2012


The 2012 Employment Census of the UK’s creative media industries provides a snapshot of those working on 4 July 2012.

832 UK companies participated in this important piece of research, which covers television, radio, animation, facilities, interactive media, computer games, VFX, corporate production and film. It excludes freelancers who were not working on Census Day and does not include freelancers in film production.

Key findings are:

  • Total employment in the UK's creative media industries has grown by more than 4,000 since 2009 (from 188,150 to 192,200). This represents a 2 per cent increase in employment. This is significant when viewed in the context of the wider economic climate, which saw less than 1 per cent increase in employment across the rest of the UK economy.
  • Representation of women has increased from 53,750 in 2009 to 69,590 in 2012. Women represented 36 per cent of the total workforce in 2012 compared to 27 per cent in 2009. This reverses the previous decline seen between 2006-2009.
  • Representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people (BAME) has declined further since the last Census. Almost 2,000 BAME people have left the industries since 2009, reducing the representation to just 5.4 per cent of the total workforce.
  • Overall, the proportion of the workforce described by their employers as disabledhas remained the same since 2006, at 1 per cent. This is significantly lower than the proportion reporting themselves as disabled in Creative Skillset's 2010 Creative Media Workforce Survey, in which 5.6 per cent of the workforce reported they have a disability.
  • Levels of employment have increased in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the South East and the South West of England.
  • 24 per cent of the workforce is freelance, which is the same as 2009. Freelancing is most prevalent in those areas most closely involved in the production process.

Read the full report here

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