Supporting young people in pre-employment

,  18 May 2016

The Creative Skills Initiative has given pre-employment opportunities to nearly 1,500 young people across England. Watch this video to find out more about how it has impacted people's lives.

Sara Whybrew, Director of the Creative Employment Programme

The Creative Skills Initiative (CSI) is the pre-employment strand of the Creative Employment Programme, designed to support those young people who aren’t quite ready for an apprenticeship or paid internship. 

It’s introduced us to exciting young creative people who think about things innovatively and differently.

Over the last two and a half years, the programme has supported nearly 1,500 young people across England to gain some of the skills and confidence they need to get them one step closer to employment in our sector. 

The Creative Skills Initiative is an accredited employability programme, led by Artswork and delivered in partnership with some of the key cultural education leaders across England.

Miranda Hewitt-Green, CSI Programme Manager at Artswork

The aims of the Creative Skills Initiative were about creating entry level opportunities for 16-18 years olds to experience the creative and cultural industries ,and that’s about also ensuring that there’s a diverse range of entry routes into the industries.

It's not necessarily just a graduate path that apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship level passes into our sectors. It’s also about skilling up our sectors to learn how to harness new talent and create meaningful opportunities for young people.

Julia Hayes, Project Manager at A New Direction

I really feel that the Creative Skills Initiative is an offer that’s not currently available, and that we’re bringing something to the table that’s new. I can say that based on the way further education colleges respond to our offer. They genuinely feel that we’re connecting them to world class institutions that their particular cohort of young people aren’t normally accessing.

Chris Holden, Lecturer at Peterborough Community College

Not only do our learners appreciate the fact there is somewhere new that they could possibly work, but the arts sector itself looks at perhaps an untapped population that could contribute magnificently to it.

Behrooz, CSI Participant at Royal Opera House Bridge

The best part of this course was that I could be in different professional situations, that I could learn skills that I wanted in the future, like time management or team working.  And the other best thing is to meet other people to see what their experiences are and then use them in the future.

Becky Martin, Producer, Lyric Hammersmith

I think it’s really important for young people who are interested in the arts to be able to have exposure to a professional setting and to learn from professionals in a professional setting because it becomes much clearer what you can do once you’re there doing it.

Justine Morgan, Tutor at City College Plymouth

I think the hardest thing for students today is getting industry experience. it’s very, very difficult to get a foot in the door, and the Creative Skills Initiative has given them that stepping stone of not only being students but being able to put into practice everything they’ve learned in the classroom, which is invaluable.

Aasiya, CSI Participant at A New Direction

Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to get an agent, which was my dream from college. So definitely this opportunity has been a really big part of my life.

Chris Holden

The Arts Award is extremely useful. It gives our learners a real focus, and we can tailor it to the needs of our individual learners. And also in terms of equipment or time that we have available to us. 

The skills became part of my life and part of me. I can use them in professional situations.

So we find the Arts Award's flexibility is its biggest strength.

Kieran, CSI Participant at Sage Gateshead

Since being on the course itself, I’ve probably improved my confidence, my communication skills as well -  that’s improved phenomenally. So it’s been great.

Ben, CSI Participant at The Mighty Creatives

I didn’t get good grades in school or none of that, but now I’m starting to really improve. I’ve seen myself improve, which is probably the most important thing for anybody, is for yourself to be improving and know that you’re improving, so that’s helped me quite a lot.

Jo Townshend, Principal at Rye Studio School

Real life scenarios and professional projects are hand-in-hand with traditional qualifications such as A levels and BTECs, so it’s a really exciting combination.

Justine Morgan

They’re a lot more organised, a lot more professional, their timekeeping was better, their ability to deal with clients was better and it really gave them some excellent vocational experience.


The skills became part of my life and part of me and I can use them in the future in professional situations.

Wendy Doyle, Programme Leader at Sage Gateshead

Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to get an agent which was my dream from college

I think the long-term impact of a programme like the Creative Skills Initiative is that we’re really working with young people who don’t have those opportunities to get into employment. 

It’s really given them quite an in-depth experience of work placement and vocational qualifications around the workplace that we’re seeing as a change in their attitude towards work.

And we would hope that from that have an increased rate of them going into employment.

Toby Campion, Development Coordinator at The Mighty Creatives

Our work with the Creative Skills Initiative has also opened the door to apprenticeships and internships with organisations.

Some smaller organisations who maybe start with a work experience placement as part of the Creative Skills Initiative see the benefits of that and see that there is a capacity for a young person to be working with them, and then are more likely to take on an apprentice or an intern after that.

Becky Martin

It’s introduced us to a lot of really exciting young creative people who think about things innovatively and differently and have helped us shape how the programme should be for the next cohort who come along.

Peter Thornton, Educational Consultant at Royal Opera House Bridge

It’s fascinating to try and find new ways of trying to improve access routes to our sector. The Creative Skills Initiative is one route that I think is going to prove to be interesting and fruitful in the future because of the way it introduces workplace activity and real jobs to young people who wouldn’t normally think of them.

Miranda Hewitt-Green

The beauty of the Creative Skills Initiative is that it allows us to roll out a programme on a national scale, but actually because it’s delivered through national partners regionally we’re able to respond to local need and develop really meaningful placements for young people.

Jo Townshend

It’s given them confidence, and then they’ve gone on to lead workshops with young people, they’ve gone into primary schools, they’ve gone in to nursery schools, they’ve worked with just their younger peers and that’s given them further confidence, and with that they’re ready to take on the world!

Find out more about the Creative Skills Initiative pre-employment programme.

channel="supporter-blog" url_title="supporting-young-people-in-pre-employment"