#2 Provided over 2.6 million people with careers information and advice

,  24 February 2015

Eight websites, countless live events and quite a few logos. The one constant over the last ten years: we provide advice for creative careers, for the industry and by the industry.

The need for advice about creative careers

Why do we provide careers advice? Because when we first spoke to the creative sector, they didn't believe young people were getting the right information about the real jobs available.

The employers wanted to fix the problem themselves: sharing real stories, giving inspiration to others, offering practical tools and advice, as well as a hefty dose of reality about a working life in the creative industries.

There are so many jobs in the creative industries, so many different ways of working and so many crossovers between the different sectors. With no single path to follow, there is no better way to find out about a career than to hear someone else’s story, see them at work, or just ask them a question.

Creative & Cultural Skills took on the challenge of providing that guidance, one way or another.

It began with a website…

Our first careers advice website began in 2006. It had a long gestation, a titanic ambition and a portmanteau for a name (originally ‘culturate.net’, it was mercifully changed to ‘Creative Choices°’).

Joining the web team in 2009, I was presented with a website that had attempted to be the creative industry’s answer to Google, Wikipedia, Facebook and YouTube. It also had a little ‘°’ symbol at the end of its name, which didn’t make it easy to type out.

The creative sector didn't believe young people were getting the right information about the real jobs available.

In order to tame this digital leviathan, we scaled it back into a straightforward platform that provided solid content, connected well with others, and addressed some basic questions that we knew needed answering:

  • What is it really like to work in the creative industries?
  • Where do I go next in my career?

This approach struck home with our audience. More people came to the website, they stayed longer and returned often. The industry responded as well: volunteering more stories, sending people our way, and telling us where we needed to improve and grow.

A year after relaunch and our daily visitors were numbering in the thousands. By May 2012 we had passed one million visitors.

And the live career events…

At the same time, our National Skills Academy network was working with industry members to host careers events for young people. Beginning as ‘Offstage Choices’, and made possible by Arts Council England funding, schools would visit performance venues to see the kind of careers that were available.

Once we joined the website to the events, these also became part of ‘Creative Choices’ and have reached over 100,000 young people across the UK. For aspiring young professionals, we also put on Production Days to music festivals, and Technical Masterclasses to provide bespoke training.

Young people don’t just have to read about creative careers, they can step and in experience them first-hand.

… and then more websites

In 2009, we inherited the Get Into Theatre website, also funded by Arts Council England. With it came a more direct interaction with our audience. Unlike Creative Choices, this site had a panel of industry experts who were willing to answer questions about their career.

It was becoming apparent that we had quite a lot of websites.

This sector-specific website formed the basis of four more websites: Music, Jewellery, Heritage and Design. All of them sharply focussed on their industries, and each with their own panel of industry experts.

It was becoming apparent by this time that we had quite a lot of websites.

Everything under one roof

In 2014, we brought it all together. Not just Creative Choices and all the Get Into websites, but information on creative apprenticeships, education partners and our campaign to Build a Creative Nation.

If you want a creative career; or if you already have one and want to move forward, there was now a single website for you. It has the ambition and the wherewithal to be a comprehensive careers resource for the creative and cultural industries, much like the original Creative Choices (that one with the ‘°’ symbol) had always intended to be.

So why do we provide careers advice? In my view, we don’t. The creative industry has always provided the advice – and we passed it on to over two and half million people.

In the run up to our annual conference and tenth birthday celebration we're looking back at our biggest achievements of the past decade: one a day for ten days.

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