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Top Takeaways

Forum discussion affirmed that strengthening diverse routes into the creative industries is key to ensuring that the growth in creative jobs benefits local people.

Bootcamps, apprenticeships and the Kickstart programme, are all opportunities to open up access to more diverse workers. Case studies showed how re-trainers, over 50s and the long-term unemployed have all built successful careers in the creative industries using these skills pathways.

But discussion also highlighted that the following flexibilities could significantly increase their impact:  

  • National skills ‘products’ can be very prescriptively structured and their desired outputs very narrowly defined, making them difficult for creative sector businesses to access. Greater flexibility in the design, delivery and outcomes for these products would make it easier to align with, for example, the project-based workflows of many creative businesses.
  • Gaps between the suite of national skills products can lead to disconnected talent pathways for both employers and workers. Flexible funds available at a local or combined authority level can create bridges into and between those schemes, nurturing talent to directly meet business need.
  • Bringing in new, diverse talent and giving them the right support can be challenging for creative micro businesses who lack HR or co-ordination capacity. Opening up access to unspent apprenticeship levies could help to create that capacity for small creative employers, that make up the majority of the sector.
  • Reframing procurement processes could make them more accessible to smaller, specialist sectoral organisations, enabling them to deliver skills programme. These organisations are perfectly placed to engage more diverse talent and to deliver the practical, specialist ‘work-ready’ skills employers and freelancers need. But by their very nature, they are often niche, specialist organisations delivering carefully tailored programmes, and therefore don’t have the capacity to compete for large tenders or deliver trainees in high numbers.
  • These smaller, grassroot, sector support organisations also need help to build their own capacity. For example, being able to access guidance on tendering processes or reporting requirements such as Ofsted. With the right support, many grass-roots cultural organisations could include skills development within their offer.
  • Better connection between planning and delivery of national and regional skills provision would help to avoid any overlap or duplication.
  • Fostering greater peer-to-peer connection and support across local government would help to spread successful approaches, insights and best practice.
  • Ensuring freelancers are properly supported is critical to cluster-based workforce development. Whether that’s by accessing flexible training so they can enhance their skills while still earning an income, or helping them to understand their rights and responsibilities as freelance workers, their needs must be recognised within local skills planning.
  • Industry and government need to raise awareness of the vast range of jobs and opportunities available across the creative industries.