About the Creative Employment Programme

The Creative Employment Programme in England has now closed for applications.

Ziza Sery-Bi, Apprentice at the ICA
Ziza Sery-Bi, Apprentice at the ICA

The Creative Employment Programme creates paid internships, apprenticeships and traineeships in arts and cultural organisations and gives young people the chance to gain experience in organisations local to where they live.

Young people aged 16-24 from all backgrounds, from graduates to those with few or no qualifications, get the chance to access on the job training and experience to build the skills that employers want while working in high-quality organisations.

All internships created through the Creative Employment Programme need to be filled by those registered unemployed and in receipt of unemployment related benefits.

The Creative Employment Programme in England has now closed for applications. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Purpose of the Creative Employment Programme

The Creative Employment Programme aims to:

  • Increase the number of apprenticeship opportunities across the arts, museums and library sectors
  • Increase the number of paid interns in the sector, with a view to completely eradicating unpaid internships in the long term
  • Deliver work-focused training opportunities to 16-21 years old to help build their confidence and employability skills
  • Generate long-term commitment to sustaining new job opportunities beyond the life of the Creative Employment Programme
  • Establish/maintain equitable and fit for purpose recruitment practices
  • Improve understanding of employment challenges associated with the arts
  • Develop robust local partnerships that can help improve employment opportunities for young people
  • Establish effective relationships with Jobcentre Plus
  • Increase Arts Award attainment.

Arts Council England will fund the Creative Employment Programme to run until March 2016. As long as all job opportunities have started (not completed) by March 2016 they are eligible for funding from us.

Bringing in the Creative Employment Programme at a time of economic downturn provides the extra help that employers need. Over the life of the programme, we hope employers will experience the real benefits of creating fairer entry routes and will have seen that the impact of bringing in a more diverse workforce.

The programme will ensure a change in employment practices and a shift to high quality, paid opportunities for young people. The programme will also provide access to an increased talent pool, nurture talent and a new generation of arts professionals.

How the Creative Employment Programme will help

Traditionally the arts and cultural sector has employed graduates into unpaid internships as the way to enter the workforce. The Creative Employment Programme addresses this cultural barrier by incentivising employers to adopt fairer employment practices.

Due to the economic climate, some employers have limited resources available to create new jobs at entry level. Employers may also need resources for additional training and support to create new apprenticeships.

For Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), these can be significant barriers. The Creative Employment Programme will help support employers create these entry level jobs during tough economic times.

The importance of the creative industries

The creative industries are one of the fastest growing sectors in the country:


Creative & Cultural Industries 2011 

Creative & Cultural Industries 2013 

Gross Value Added

£65.18 billion

£76.9 billion

Number of jobs

1.55 million

1.7 million

Percentage of UK’s employment 

5.2 per cent

5.6 per cent

Source: Creative Industries Economic Estimates 2015

Our research shows that more than a quarter of employers in the creative and cultural sector have had difficulty in recruiting due to a lack of experience and skills in applicants.

Who can access the Creative Employment Programme?

The Creative Employment Programme is for young people aged 16-24. Young people are disproportionately affected by current levels of unemployment. There are currently nearly 1 million unemployed young people in the UK.

The Creative Employment Programme will include training and support for both young people and employers through peer networks for young people, Arts Award, HR support and wider professional practice and employability training.

The Creative Employment Programme is not exclusively for those claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. Young people will be able to access the programme at a local level through a variety of means such as Youth Services, Colleges, Jobcentre Plus and arts and cultural organisations’ outreach programmes.


All internship opportunities must be filled by a young person aged 18-24 who is registered as unemployed with Jobcentre Plus and claiming an unemployment-related benefit, such as Jobseeker’s AllowanceEmployment and Support Allowance or Income Support. These jobs must be advertised through Jobcentre Plus.


All apprenticeship posts must be advertised through the National Apprenticeship Matching Service. As there is no formal way of officially verifying the employment status of some young people (e.g. you cannot be a Jobseeker's Allowance claimant if you’re 16-18 years old) then we ask employers to try and recruit in the spirit of the programme by offering apprenticeship opportunities to those who are likely to benefit the most.

Pre-employment opportunities

Pre-employment opportunities are available through our Creative Skills Initiative. These are for people aged 16-21 who are not yet ready to enter the workplace.