Inspired by the Pay Debate, Catherine Large, Joint CEO of Creative & Cultural Skills, says arts employers need to pave the way for creative newcomers…
It came as no surprise to hear that IdeasTap’s research found 91% of members have completed unpaid work in the course of their career. Creative & Cultural Skills’ own research shows the majority of people currently working in the creative and cultural industries are educated to degree level or above, yet employers in the creative sector say they value experience over qualifications. A quarter of those we polled said they were experiencing skills gaps and shortages in key areas. The rapid growth in the number and duration of unpaid internships shows a real disconnect between employers and what the education sector is supplying in terms of a future workforce. We know unpaid work is unsustainable for anyone without additional financial support, so we are looking at an economic situation with chronic under-employment, as well as unemployment.
It’s Creative & Cultural Skills’ core belief that we need fair access to entry-level jobs if the creative economy is going to achieve its full potential. We’ve been leading a campaign in the creative sector to encourage a change in recruitment culture. Shifting the attitudes of employers is crucial in ensuring that the right entry-level jobs are available, that they are paid, and that they are openly advertised. Working with Arts Council England, we published a set of Internship Guidelines in 2011 to ensure that employers have the right information about employing interns.
We’ve also been encouraging the employment of apprentices in the creative sector, so that entry-level jobs can be created where no experience is necessary to apply, and you can get a qualification at the end of your apprenticeship, which is transferable on to other jobs. Through the Creative Apprenticeship programme we’ve created over 2,000 apprenticeship places and over 90% are going on to permanent jobs or further study at the end of them.
More than ever, the creative sector needs to work together to ensure that there are fair routes in and that they are open to the individuals with the most talent and potential to thrive, regardless of their background or where they come from. We’ve heard a lot of positive stories from employers keen to work in this way, but we know that, in times like these, there is more work to do.
On 6 March, we will be formally launching the Creative Employment Programme with £15 million of Lottery funding awarded by Arts Council England. The programme aims to create 6,500 job opportunities, through apprenticeships and paid internships, for young people aged 16-24, over the course of two years.
We are looking for employers to create jobs and to work in partnership with colleges to provide training opportunities. The Creative Employment Programme will provide partial wage subsidy, with additional support coming either from the National Apprenticeship Service or through Job Centre Plus.
We hope we can kick-start a cultural change in recruitment, which will benefit the long-term growth of the sector and create fair entry routes in. We know that for every 200 creative apprentices employed, the impact on the national economy is over £2.4 million, which makes the business case even stronger.
However, the success of the Creative Employment Programme depends upon the ability of employers to seize that opportunity and to adopt a new mind-set. After the official launch in March, we will be trying hard to find employers willing to work with us and our partners to take on apprentices and paid interns. Only by looking towards the next generation of talent in this way can we hope to put an end to unpaid work and create genuine, long-term employment.
For more on Creative & Cultural Skills’ Creative Apprentices programme, go here.
More from The Pay Debate:
Member case studies: working for free
Is work experience worth it?
Daisy on unpaid internships
Is journo pay paltry?
Employment rights: the lowdown
Should employers of unpaid interns be arrested?
Working for food