A Call to Arms
The economic crisis that hit the UK in 2008 has had a devastating effect on the country with Britain’s young people bearing the brunt of a downturn which is not of their making. Even as the economy shows signs of recovery around a million 16-24 year olds still find themselves out of work. This is a moral affront to us all.
Young people are the lifeblood of the creative industries, where new ideas and innovation are at a premium. These creative businesses contribute £36bn each year to the UK economy and continue to grow. Despite this, it is still harder than ever to break into the sector, which has often relied on unpaid labour and nepotism rather than enlightened 21st century employment practices. This is a crime - quite literally in the case of employers in breach of national minimum wage legislation.
Government ministers and leaders of the nation’s great cultural institutions rightly talk of the world-beating contribution of our arts and creative sectors. Now is the time to turn that rhetoric into reality and ensure the sector’s recruitment practices are also world class, so we can nurture young talent to future-proof the sector’s growth and competitive edge.
In the spirit of creativity we should take inspiration from the past: the arts employment schemes of the Roosevelt-era Works Progress Administration; the great post-war flowering in Britain which created the Arts Council itself; the Thatcher-era Enterprise Allowance Scheme, which gave so many people a start as creative entrepreneurs. But we should also look to the future, recognising that we risk losing a generation of talent if we do not act now.
1,000 Days To Create 50,000 Jobs
Our Creative Employment Programme, funded by Arts Council England, will provide funding for 6,500 work opportunities through paid internships, apprenticeships and traineeships over the next two years. This is an immensely ambitious project to take young people off the dole and into creative jobs across the country. But this is just the beginning.
Economists recognise that the creative industries make up one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy. Our challenge to employers is to pull together and create a further 50,000 jobs by 2016. If each one of the country’s 106,700 creative enterprises agreed to take on a single apprentice we could hit that target in half that time.
At the same time, we need to address the issue of access and diversity. For too long, the creative sector has been a white middle-class domain with less than eight per cent of the workforce from other ethnic backgrounds.
Our mission is to build a creative nation through job creation and social justice.
Fair Access Principle
A diverse workforce for the creative industries enables the widest possible range of people to be involved in the sector. Successful companies recognise there is an economic imperative to recruiting from as wide a talent pool as possible. A football club which just recruited white Oxbridge graduates would not last a season in the Premier League, but too often this is seen as acceptable in other areas of society.
Enlightened employers in the creative sector have been pioneers in opening up new opportunities to young people even in these tough economic times. We need to build on this work by celebrating employers who sign up to the Fair Access Principle and end the pernicious practice of unpaid internships.
Plan Of Action: The Five “Cs”
- CREATE: Encourage employers to create more paid entry-level job opportunities in their industry.
- COLLABORATE: Help colleges meet the needs of employers in the creative and cultural industries and help employers unleash the talent of our young people.
- CO-ORDINATE: Work together to promote good recruitment and employment practice within the creative and cultural sector.
- CODIFY: Establish the Fair Access Principle as an industry standard for training, recruitment and employment in the sector.
- CHAMPION: Celebrate employers who embody the values of the Fair Access Principle.
As the nation turns to recovery, one of the hidden weapons of growth is the creative and cultural industries.
Their contribution to the UK economy is £70,000 every minute, but this could just be the start of it. The talents of young people across the spectrum of the creative and cultural industries are a powerful asset and could contribute to national growth.
We believe in:
- THE POWER OF YOUNG PEOPLE - we need to start a movement across the sector to recognise the impact that young people have on productivity and innovation
- SKILLS DEVELOPMENT - we need to look to a new generation and equip them with the skills to drive economic growth
- OPPORTUNITIES - we need to help employers to create paid internships and apprenticeships for talented young people
It may be a modest first target, but our pledge to create 6,500 opportunities are the means, not the end, to building our creative nation.
With the right support, together we can create 50,000 new jobs and employment opportunities for young people.
We can fuel the continued growth of the UK’s key boom industry, while creating new avenues of aspiration for young people who are being consigned to the scrapheap. By offering real skills, real training and real opportunities, we can transform the lives of thousands of young people.
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