Welcome to the new education and skills ministers

,  16 July 2014

Welcome Nick Boles, new Skills Minister, and Nicky Morgan, new Education Secretary. Farewell Matthew Hancock and Michael Gove. As the education sector adjusts to the influx of new Ministers, here are three things from Creative & Cultural Skills on what we need Government to do to help get young people in to jobs in the creative and cultural industries.

Careers advice and guidance needs to be created with the active involvement of the industry it refers to.
Careers advice and guidance needs to be created with the active involvement of the industry it refers to.

1. Continue with the reform of the apprenticeships system

The apprenticeships system needs to be made more robust and relevant for employers. At the same time, keep it practical. We have heard the overarching message about simplification and clarification – we now need tangible ways for employers to engage to drive up apprenticeship numbers.

We need to think carefully about how small and microbusinesses access apprenticeships. And, in particular for the creative industries, how sole traders, freelancers and independent practitioners can get on board too.

2. Actively encourage schools to engage with creativity

Creativity needs to be an integral part of the curriculum. Place emphasis on applied subjects like Design & Technology and Art & Design alongside the academic.

As vocational qualifications are reformed to make them more rigorous, ensure that their new assessment criteria meets the needs of employers in the creative sector. It is not appropriate, for example, for art students to sit exams simply because this helps make the qualification more robust – the portfolio is key.

Protect and promote qualifications and courses which are valued by employers, even if they are relatively small-scale – a high volume of learners isn’t everything; the silversmithing industry might only need 16 new recruits a year.

3. Prioritise and invest in careers advice and guidance

Careers advice and guidance needs to be created with the active involvement of the industry it refers to.

I’d like to think that Creative Choices is a good example of this.  Young people urgently need better information to make choices about their futures. The advice they get is often surface-level. We need to provide straightforward ways for employers and practitioners to give advice, and effective channels for this advice to reach young people.

As always, we hope for joined-up action across Government departments to tackle youth employment and fair access to the creative industries. These new Ministers do not have much time to make a difference in the run-up to the General Election, but we hope they will play their part in Building A Creative Nation.

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