Farewell to Creative & Cultural Skills

,  4 April 2016

I’m writing today to say farewell to Creative & Cultural Skills, as I will be leaving on 22 April after nine years.

Image: National Conference 2015 (c) James Fletcher
Image: National Conference 2015 (c) James Fletcher

I have been offered a new job at Ofqual, the qualifications regulator, as their interim Director of Strategic Relationships working on Vocational Qualifications.

It is a very interesting time to work in this area, with the significant reforms to apprenticeships and Lord Sainsbury’s pending review of technical and professional education. I hope to continue my interest in ensuring employers get what they need from the skills system in my new role.

Playing my part in the National College

I know I leave Creative & Cultural Skills at one of the most exciting times in its development. I’m going to be handing over to the new Principal of the National College for the Creative and Cultural Industries. We are interviewing shortly and will announce soon – watch this space.

I am so proud to have helped build what now feels like a huge swathe of support for apprenticeship schemes across the sector.

I’m delighted to have played my part in getting the National College approved by Government, and in putting together a £9 million funding partnership to create the National College headquarters at High House Production Park in Thurrock. This will include new residential accommodation, which will enable students from all over the country to benefit from its facilities. If you’d like to get involved please register your interest.
So much has changed over the last nine years. Where Creative & Cultural Skills was once a lone voice arguing for creative sector apprenticeships, there are now so many supporters. There was a point in time when the environment and partnerships were so challenging that I never thought we would see an apprentice in the music industry, for example, let alone in advertising.

The concept and opportunity has now however been truly grasped by people who have made the initiative their own, to the benefit of over 4,000 young people. I am so proud to have helped build what now feels like a huge swathe of support and enthusiasm for apprenticeship schemes across the sector, responding to the demand for fair access to our profession, and providing opportunities to the broadest range of talent.

A changing skills landscape

There are some significant challenges ahead for the creative sector in grappling with this Government’s changes to apprenticeships, including the Levy and funding reforms.

I urge you all to take up the opportunities that this presents as well – to design new apprenticeship standards to replace the existing frameworks, and develop new partnerships that really work in practice for the industry. Creative & Cultural Skills and the new National College are here to help.

We have always said that we are in it for the long game. For quiet long-term change, not short-term flashy impact.

The skills system itself has also changed significantly in the last period. Sector Skills Councils once enjoyed core funding from Government, and this infrastructure no longer exists. Even the UK Commission for Employment and Skills is closing down this year.

I am proud to say that Creative & Cultural Skills has never been satisfied with simply reaching for the next grant – we have always said that we are in it for the long game. For quiet long-term change, not short-term flashy impact. It is thanks to our members, partners and clients that our charitable work will continue to develop in a sustainable way.

Joining the National College Board

I am not stepping away completely. I feel so strongly about our cause that it would be impossible to do so altogether. I’m honoured that the employers who have been leading the National College development work have asked me to join its founding Board, so I will continue to be involved in a different capacity.

None of it has been possible without you.

The next year is going to be an incredible learning curve, and I feel ready for a new challenge. I have no doubt I will bring all my knowledge back out to the creative and cultural industries in due course.

The purpose of this note is to share my news and to say please stay in touch. But is also to thank you – our partners, friends and colleagues, who have shown so much support to our cause and to me personally over the last nine years. None of it has been possible without you.

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