We’re hurtling towards a New Year, but before we leave 2021 behind, we would like to reflect on all we have achieved together.

It has been a year of tremendous challenge for everyone, which makes it all the more important to celebrate the great work our Creative & Cultural Skills team has delivered alongside our partners, employers, and people working throughout our sector.

Of course, we’d have loved to meet new people in person, to see workplaces for ourselves, and to have delivered on-site training to a greater extent than the pandemic allowed.

Thankfully, deploying technologies, revising how we work, and adapting swiftly to extraordinary circumstances allowed us to sustain our impact and build our reach across the UK. We are delivering new opportunities for learning and development in Northern Ireland, and have engaged a range of partners in Scotland, where new delivery kicks off early in 2022. Throughout England and Wales we are also working with employers, policymakers, and campaigners in support of our mission to create a fair and skilled creative and cultural sector. This remains firmly at the core of our work and based on the level of engagement we see across our programme, we know that it’s a priority for industry too.

At the time of writing it is clear that our sector, especially those involved in live events of all sorts, are once again facing some very real and immediate business challenges. We know that the impact of the pandemic is clearly far from over, and all of us at CCSkills wishes those of you facing a particularly difficult Christmas and new year period the very best, with our hopes that 2022 will prove to be a calmer and more stable year.

From all of the team here at CCSkills, I’d like to wish you all a very peaceful break over the festive period and we look forward to working with you next year.

Jane Ide OBE
CEO, Creative & Cultural Skills

Here are some of our highlights from 2021:

Supporting the sector

‘Creative & Cultural Skills has played a pivotal role in re-shaping our recruitment policy. Our goal is to make the Bluecoat a place where people from all kinds of diverse backgrounds can find their own pathway into a career in the arts. CCSkills has helped us to take our own steps towards realising this goal.’
Mary Cloake, Chief Executive at Bluecoat.

Our work to provide guidance and training to empower employers to build a skilled, inclusive and fair sector has seen significant growth this year, with our training programmes reaching over 550 employers.

We recently announced new partnerships with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Creative Scotland to deliver a package of free training to cultural sector employers alongside our existing programme in England, supported by Arts Council England. We’ve also worked with The National Archives to create and deliver a bespoke package of training to their sector and have continued to work on a one-to-one basis with employers seeking specific advice.

Our recent online event, Changing History: Diversifying the museum workforce was an opportunity to bring together a community of brilliant panelists with an audience of professionals and young people, to explore some of the challenges the sector faces across representation, barriers to entry, leadership and recruitment. You can watch the full recording or read the transcript online and find out more about the event and panelists here.

Our team across the UK have continued to forge local connections, provide expert advice and raise awareness of opportunities and best practice that enable the sector to join our mission in creating a fair and skilled workforce. Members of the team have contributed towards a range of strategic events and meetings including Newcastle University’s Wor Culture programme, Coventry UK City of Culture’s apprenticeship awareness events, numerous local government-led cultural consultation groups, Erasmus Evoked with Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums which saw us sharing best practice advice with 26 EU Partners, and many more.

This year we also launched a brand-new podcast for the sector which brought together professionals and young people and explored fresh perspectives and ideas around fair, equal and inclusive recruitment. Take a listen to the series here.

Creative employment opportunities

‘It’s really helped me to put myself out there into the world of the music industry, which can be very daunting. Without doing the Kickstart, I don’t think I’d be pursuing the career I am now.’
Former Kickstarter Izzy Barber, Melodic Distraction.

We all know that the creative and cultural sectors were hit harder than most by COVID-19 with nearly two-thirds of jobs in museums, galleries and libraries, and almost half of the jobs in music, theatre and visual arts considered vulnerable at the height of the pandemic. At CCSkills we’ve been working hard to pave the way for a more inclusive and diverse recovery so the sector can ‘build back fairer’, so we were thrilled to be announced as a gateway organisation for the Department for Work and Pension’s Kickstart scheme.

Since launching in July, Creative Kickstart has given over 120 young people receiving Universal Credit, six-month job placements within the creative and cultural industries, and we expect to see that increase to over 400 before March 2022. You can read more about Kickstarters Izzy Barber and Karmal Waters on our news feed.

2021 also saw us enter the fourth year of our Cultural Ambition project, a long-term training programme that has provided over 30 young people in Wales with paid training and work experience across the cultural heritage sector. We recently caught up with Ottie Foster-Alexander during his placement at Plas Mawr in his hometown of Conwy, where he’s been working with the Lead Custodian, Sheena Williams. In this short film, we meet both Ottie and Sheena and find out more about the programme, why Plas Mawr decided to get involved with the programme and how Ottie’s been finding the training.

Inspiring young people with industry led insights

‘Developing my workshop for the festival has provided me with the opportunity to explore different aspects of my studies that previously I had not considered.’
National Festival of Making Live Brief winner, Caitlin Wyatt

We believe that everyone has the right to a career in the creative and cultural industries and we want to dismantle the barriers that young people furthest from the jobs market face in accessing information, pathways and opportunities to develop those careers.

This year we’ve worked with our partners across England and Scotland to deliver two of our award-winning Discover! Creative Careers Weeks, one in March which was funded by Arts Council England and featured a suite of rich, industry-led films, live Q&As and resources giving insight into real roles and career routes across the creative industries, and another just last month in Scotland, a pilot programme supported in-kind by the sector who created and shared resources and celebrated their own journeys.

Discover! Creative Careers has been one of our flagship programmes over the last few years, having now reached over 200,000 students across England, Scotland and Wales, which is a huge credit to the sector who have recognised the positive difference real encounters with our world leading industry can have of young people’s understanding of creative careers.

This year we also launched a pilot Discover! Industry Insights programme, funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) that supported a series of online events and resources that provided college students with in-depth insight into specific job roles. This included the creation of six new films with partners at the University of Cambridge Museums, Rushmatters, the Royal Opera House’s Production Workshop, White Light Ltd and Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and several live events including online workshops and Q&As exploring roles in emerging technologies with FACT Liverpool and Rose Bruford College and a practical ceramics workshop with the Devon Guild of Craft.

We’ve continued to work with partners to offer live briefs for colleges and universities, giving students an opportunity to respond to an industry-led brief set by the professionals. This year, employers including Welsh National Opera, Worcester Arches and the National Festival of Making – read more about the Festival of Making’s winner, Caitlin Wyatt here – you may even pick up some last minute DIY festive gift ideas!

Our series of backstage tours across music festivals and concerts continued this year, with over 100 students gaining valuable preparation for their future working lives with behind-the-scenes access, meeting experienced practitioners, and learning about the full range of career opportunities that they might not have been aware of otherwise at Latitude, Leeds Festival and Wireless over the summer and more recently during the MADNESS tour at arenas across the UK.

Apprenticeships and vocational training developments

Since leading the developments of the creative apprenticeship frameworks in 2008, we’ve seen thousands of apprentices start in the sector, supporting young people to pursue an alternative route into employment in our world leading industry. We remain committed to championing paid, vocational routes to work to address skills gaps and shortages and as a tool for increasing the diversity of our current and future workforce.

This year we have facilitated the development of a further six new apprenticeship standards in England, two of which, Archivist and Records Manager Level 7 and Hair, Wigs, Make-up, and Prosthetics Technician Level 3, are now ready to be delivered. We’ll be working to secure training providers and supporting employers to consider these routes as part of their workforce development plans next year. 2021 also saw the launch of the Museum & Gallery Technician Level 3 Apprenticeship and we’re looking forward to seeing this being taken up by employers in the new year.

In summer, we were thrilled to announce the approval of updates to Creative and Cultural Modern Apprenticeships Frameworks by Skills Development Scotland which will provide vocational training opportunities in cultural venue operations, and technical theatre and production operations. Museums & Galleries Practice has also been added this year as a new pathway to this modern apprenticeship framework.

We’ve continued to support and provide expert guidance across skills development and vocational training at policy level in England and have worked with Creative Industries Council colleagues to support the development of the new Flexi Job Apprenticeship Scheme, the introduction of Bulk Levy Transfers, and have led the work with the Department for Education that’s supporting the development for Modular Apprenticeships. We look forward to seeing further developments across these areas in 2022.