#3 Worked with over 1,000 small businesses to improve skills and training

,  25 February 2015

From delivering seminars and funding schemes to encouraging businesses to link up through local networks, we've helped over 1,000 SMEs improve skills and training in the creative industries.

The creative sector is dominated by smaller firms and individuals on freelance contracts, something we've always been keen to consider when designing skills solutions. 

Many of the skills challenges I have been exposed to in my time at Creative & Cultural Skills are underpinned by a lack of capacity – whether due to time, financial constraints, or a general lack of knowledge or confidence.

In the last decade we've have been able to support and contribute to a range of programmes that have facilitated new partnerships, helping over 1,000 SMEs improve their businesses along the way.

Joining up the dots

One of the key roles we’ve been able to play has been in alleviating some of the bureaucratic burdens employers can often face when dealing with the skills system. As I’ve often said, it’s not that the dots aren’t out there – but rarely is someone there to join the dots up.

We've regularly brought together networks of employers to develop programmes tailored to local skills needs.

Over the last ten years we have regularly brought together local networks of employers throughout the UK to develop and create programmes tailored to local skills needs. These have included:

  • Programmes of inspiring careers events, such as those led by the Suffolk collective of venues: namely the New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich, Dance East and Aldeburgh Music.
  • The hosting of skills workshops and networking sessions through initiatives such as the Culture Change programme that has helped businesses save money, create an environmental action plan, and discover new ways to grow.
  • And, of course, access through the Creative Employment Programme to a contribution towards the wage costs of taking on an apprentice or paid intern – in a number of cases facilitated by our Skills Academy Managers based in the local area.

A rallying point for small businesses

Creative & Cultural Skills has often provided the rallying point where freelancers and other self-employed and/or small organisations can meet, both formally and informally, to overcome a lack of communication and encourage the sharing of ideas and opportunities around skills and training.

Our seminars at events, ranging from the Museums Association Conferences to International Jewellery London, have taken the skills and training debate right to the heart of smaller organisations around the UK. And by sitting on investment panels such as the SUCCESS programme in the Hastings, Thanet and Tendring local authority areas, we have been able to bring to bear our knowledge and support for new and expanding creative businesses in support of their growth plans.

Skills shortages hold back growth, hence the need to continue to do more, but most small businesses also know that plans rarely survive. As the boxer Mike Tyson once said about his opponents’ strategies: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Operating our services with a view to improving skills and training, as initially a lean start-up ourselves (and we are still lean), has meant we have, like all successful small creative businesses, had to punch above our weight.

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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