The future of the creative industries in Northern Ireland

 9 December 2013

"Apprenticeships are the secret to the future success of the creative industries."
Cieran McAuley, CEO of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast.

"We hope to help some of our 24,000 unemployed young people find careers in the creative sector." Image © Briony Campbell

This goes to the heart of the Building a Creative Nation campaign, which we launched in Northern Ireland on 26 November 2013. We hope to help some of our 24,000 unemployed young people find careers in the creative sector.

Arts Council NI to fund 100 jobs for young people

As the Head of Creative & Cultural Skills’ work in Northern Ireland, I was especially encouraged to hear Roisin McDonough, CEO of Arts Council of NI, speak of their plans to help fund 100 apprentices and paid internships in 2014.

It’s a great contribution to kick-start the campaign, which is about fixing the broken pathways into employment. 6,500 jobs in 1,000 days is no mean feat, but as our keynote speaker James Jefferson said, ‘all good change starts with a challenge’.

Raising the skills of the creative industries

Our event was designed to showcase the work that we are already doing in Northern Ireland, and to open up the opportunities on offer as part of our UK-wide campaign.

We are especially grateful to have received support from Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, who said:

“It is my Department's aim to raise the skills levels of the workforce in the creative industries to help deliver increased productivity and competitiveness for Northern Ireland.

“I commend Creative & Cultural Skills on this innovative initiative, ‘Building a Creative Nation’, which will provide excellent training and employment opportunities in this sector of our economy.”

It’s a great endorsement for our campaign and the backing of government is a real asset. But for this to work we need employers to step up to the plate.

Employers in Northern Ireland support the campaign

I’m proud to say that half of our guests pledged their support to ‘Building a Creative Nation’ there and then. We’re really excited about the momentum we have gained from such strong backing.

We also heard some of our speakers committing from the stage to create opportunities within their businesses for apprentices and paid internships. These included Theatrical Costume Hire and Production Services Ireland, Arts & Business NI and our education partners North West Regional College and Belfast Metropolitan College.

Recognising the talent of young people

If we needed reminding of the potential and talent of young people in this country, singer-songwriter Conor Scott demonstrated it with an outstanding performance to cap a hugely positive event.

I’d like to thank all of our speakers for making the event such a success, and to encourage all those who attended to help us spread the word.

We’ve already seen employers in Northern Ireland take up the challenge, and we’re truly excited about the potential for change here as the campaign grows around the UK.

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