Reflection from National Conference 2018: IVE

Chris Strong,  23 August 2018

Chris Strong, Head of Skills & Enterprise at IVE, attended the Creative & Cultural Skills National Conference in 2018 and found it an invaluable experience. IVE are now working with Creative & Cultural Skills and the Leeds Enterprise Partnership to influence careers education in schools.

"One of the most inspirational speakers at conference was leadership guru, Hilary Carty"

Young people play games, listen to music and watch films. But how many of them know what goes into the production? How many realistically consider themselves as a possible constituent of the future workforce that helps create them?

It’s important to provide exciting real-world opportunities for people to explore their creativity and in ways that relate directly to the workplace. As such it helps to be kept up-to-date with the latest policy changes, national and regional initiatives, and to be connected with inspirational people that will support us to make a difference. That’s where Creative & Cultural Skills come in!  

National Conference

For me, the National Conference of 2018 provided vital information, with valuable insight on radical government changes to technical education and a range of questions about how this might manifest in our highly amorphous sector. For example how can we prepare young people to be successful in what is effectively a gig-economy for nearly 50 per cent of the sector workforce?

You get to meet a wealth of enthusiastic industry, education and policy makers, passionate about their work and vocational learning.

The conference cemented my thoughts on the importance of a broad pre-employment programme and the need to open minds as early as possible to the incredible breadth and depth of our creative and cultural industries. We need to provide a taste of what’s possible and build ‘creative confidence’. And, we need direct, meaningful interactions with employers that help lift aspirations and open viable progression opportunities. I know there are many passionate creative professionals who would generously share some time to help develop new talent into the sector – the skills pipeline after all, is one of the greatest concerns for so many of us.

At the National Conference you get to meet a wealth of enthusiastic industry, education and policy makers, passionate about their work and vocational learning. The challenge is how we work together to embrace that energy and create meaningful opportunities for our future workforce. As a sector we need to connect the dots and help young people make sense of the opportunities around them. And if it seems like there aren’t any then we need to create them.

Source of inspiration

One of the most inspirational speakers at conference was leadership guru, Hilary Carty, Director of the Clore Leadership Programme. She took us on a journey that started with global concerns “way beyond Trump and Brexit” including freedom of expression, climate change, rapid changes in technology and social division. She then went on to discuss the individual behaviours we need to use in our work – “to stir, investigate, challenge and innovate”.

A homogenous, white, socio-economically advantaged and majority male, graduate workforce is not conducive to maximum creativity.

I think that part of what Hilary was saying is that we need to look beyond our immediate day-to-day responsibilities. We need to stimulate a more altruistic appetite for collaboration that affects real cultural change and enhances the lives of those around us.

Hilary reminded us that although there’s now a strongly expressed desire to be inclusive and more representative, diversity often remains absent particularly as we go up the hierarchy of our institutions. If we want to innovate, we need to be creative and if we want new creativity, we need new voices in the room. A homogenous, white, socio-economically advantaged and majority male, graduate workforce is not conducive to maximum creativity.

Taking Action

At IVE, the National Conference helped us to realise we need to use our position of influence to ‘step-it-up a gear’. As well as introducing young people to the creative industries, and providing them with work experience and project based learning, we’re now working with Creative & Cultural Skills and the Leeds Enterprise Partnership to directly influence careers education in schools.

The conference helped us to realise we need to use our position of influence to ‘step-it-up a gear’.

We want to ensure that more young people from all walks of life will have the opportunity to consider, learn about and develop skills in attractive, exciting occupations with real career prospects. We are also building appreciation and understanding of a ‘creative workforce’ with businesses outside of the creative industries. Why? Well it’s part of our vision, like Creative & Cultural Skills, for a Creative Nation. By working with across sectors with influential businesses we can galvanise support for creativity as a transferable skill and the type of education that helps develop this.

As we move forward the UK’s future workforce needs to be fighting fit, well informed and properly equipped for the opportunities that are right around the corner. We may not know exactly what the jobs of the future will look like yet, but we do need to plan for them. One thing’s for certain, our innate human capacity for creativity is already, and will increasingly become, a very valuable commodity.


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