Support for the creative economy

Supplementary written evidence from Creative and Cultural Skills [SCE 038a]

Creative Apprenticeships

Bringing together employers, learners and local education providers, Creative & Cultural Skills have pioneered the Creative Apprenticeships programme, which aims to address the current and future skills needs of the creative industries by opening up progression routes to the most talented individuals:

· From a standing start of zero in 2008, more than 3,500 learners are currently undertaking, or have completed, a Creative Apprenticeship in sectors that fall within the remit of Creative & Cultural Skills and Creative Skillset.

· These figures do not take into account the significant number if learners undertaking apprenticeships in more general, transferable roles such as business administration, IT and finance who train and go on to work within the creative and cultural industries.

· At present, the Creative Apprenticeship consists of vocational qualifications at Level 2 or 3 and a theory-based qualification at Level 2 or 3 covering a range of occupation specific pathways. In a recent report published by the UKCES, the programme was cited as a key model for widening access and developing high-level vocational entry routes into the sector [1] .

· Most of the growth in apprenticeship starts in the sector over the last two years has been among advanced apprenticeships, whose numbers have nearly trebled since 2008/09, and apprenticeships at Levels 4, 5 and 6 are in high demand. Many Creative Apprentices progress to university upon completion of their apprenticeship, suggesting that there is a demand for these higher level qualifications amongst learners as well as employers.

· The programme makes a significant social and economic return on investment: each cohort of 200 Creative Apprentices makes a long-term economic contribution of over £2.4 million, and the next five cohorts of learners are forecast to have an impact in excess of £16 million [2] . These figures make allowances for both deadweight and alternative attribution.

· Significantly, during a period in which youth unemployment is a key concern, almost 90% of Creative Apprentices either stay with their employer or gain employment with another company in the industry upon completion of their apprenticeship [3] .

The establishment of the National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural is integral to the delivery of Creative Apprenticeships:

· Founded in 2009, our Skills Academy is a growing membership network of over 230 theatre and live music employers and 20 Founder Colleges from across England.

· In partnership with employers, we developed the first apprenticeship frameworks in technical theatre, costume and wardrobe, community arts, jewellery, live events management and music business. Previous to this, apprenticeships in these areas did not exist and there was little recognition of the value of apprenticeships amongst either creative and cultural employers or young people interested in working in the industry.

· In June 2012, we announced the extension of this highly successful model into the jewellery, design and cultural heritage sectors, along with a move into Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The Creative Employment Programme

The Arts Council has announced that it has selected the Skills Academy, through Creative & Cultural Skills, as the national provider for the new £15 million Creative Employment Programme (CEP). The CEP aims to help young unemployed people aged 16-24 (graduate and non-graduate) find paid entry level work in the arts and cultural sector, and will support up to 6,500 new apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships and paid internships. The programme aims to provide unemployed people with paid opportunities to gain access to on the job training, skills and experience in the arts and cultural sector.

This work comes at a time when many young people across the country are struggling to find paid employment. The Arts Council recognises that if young people cannot gain entry into the workforce then there is the risk of losing a whole generation of talent. The CEP will start in March 2013 and run until March 2015.

Barriers to Uptake

At present, 59% of the creative and cultural workforce is educated to first degree level or above, compared with an average of 37% across the UK workforce as a whole. Despite these impressive figures, our research indicates that the sector faces pressing skills gaps and shortages. In spite of these shortages, the creative and cultural industries are an area of the economy where formal investment in training has been difficult to implement. The vast majority of businesses (94%) have neither an internal training budget nor any record of accessing external training funding (89%) [4] . This is in large part due to the atypical businesses structure and patterns of employment particular to the sector, which can act as barriers to the successful implementation of long-term strategic planning.

1. The industry has a strong start-up culture, and is dominated by small and medium-sized businesses: 94% of businesses in the creative sector employ fewer than 10 staff [5] . Smaller businesses tend to have less money and fewer staff available to provide the work-based training which is the main component of an apprenticeship.

2. The industry has a high incidence of freelancers and part-time workers (44%) [6] . Seasonal, portfolio and project based work mean that it is often difficult for creative businesses to guarantee apprentices steady work.

3. Evidence published by the DCMS and BIS suggests that some creative businesses find it harder than other SMEs to access finance for long-term investment. This is liable to discourage or prevent businesses from investing in apprenticeships [7] .

4. Skills shortages are exacerbated by the fact that demand and uptake of educational courses is student rather than employer led, with the result that there is considerable misalignment between the type of qualifications students leave with and the qualifications employers value or demand.

5. The industry suffers from an entrenched unwillingness or perceived inability to recruit from the non-graduate talent pool. Many creative and cultural employers draw on the rich supply of general arts graduates to fill administrative, support and managerial roles which do not require specific technical qualifications. The high prevalence of entrants drawn from the higher education system ensures that school leavers and those who wish to take alternative, vocational routes into the sector are far less likely to gain employment.

Support Mechanisms

Training across the creative and cultural sectors is predominantly provided informally or on the job, and there is an entrenched unwillingness to engage with external training providers. The number of employers offering Creative Apprenticeship has risen sharply in recent years, and will continue to do so as employers become better aware of the benefits that accrue from the programme. Any mechanism which makes it easier for small businesses with limited resources to access training is likely to lead to a significant increase in uptake. Through our Skills Academy, Creative & Cultural Skills support small businesses and freelancers to take on Apprentices through the following mechanisms:

Group Training Associations: Group Training Associations or ‘GTAs’ are employer-led hubs where a group of employers take responsibility for training in partnership with a Skills Academy college. This model benefits small employers who may find it difficult to provide training for an apprentice without support. For example, Creative & Cultural Skills have brokered a contract for Artswork in Southampton with North Hertfordshire College. Artswork run the training programme and provide apprenticeship support for 10 apprentices, which is far more cost-effective than the college providing day-release training from its base in Stevenage. North Hertfordshire College can support the programme through the Skills Academy more cost-effectively than a local college with no links to the creative industries.

Apprenticeship Training Agency: Apprenticeship Training Agencies (ATA) support the delivery of high quality Apprenticeship programmes by enabling small employers who wish to use the services of an ATA to source, arrange and host their Apprenticeships. The ATA supports employers through different stages of the recruitment process and can employ apprentices directly, potentially allowing apprentices to split their time between several businesses. This arrangement reduces red tape for businesses, offers assurance that an apprentice will continue to be paid even if the employer can no longer complete the training period, and allows small businesses to take on apprentices part-time, reducing the time they must apportion to training each week.

For example, through the ATA, we were able to help Arts Council East and the Fitzwilliam Museum by recruiting an apprentice and placing them in both organisations, allowing them to meet the required thirty hours a week of training. The apprentice was the employee of the ATA: this meant the ATA administered her payroll (passing on the salary costs to the two organisations), and arranged the college element of her training. This particular apprentice finished her course in April 2012, and is now employed by the Fitzwilliam Museum. The flexibility of an apprenticeship of this type can prove enormously beneficial, giving learners experience of work in a variety of organisations.

Alternative Completion Conditions: The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act (2009) requires that all apprentices be formally employed from the first day of their Apprenticeship. However, in certain occupations, an exemption from ‘employed’ status is necessary – this is particularly true of the creative and cultural industries, where work often involves seasonal, part-time or one-off projects and therefore tends to be staffed by freelancers. We believe that those seeking training in such sectors should not be denied access to Apprenticeships because they cannot meet the usual requirements for employment.

Creative & Cultural Skills provided supporting evidence which helped secure an amendment to the act which rules that apprenticeships in particular occupations should allow for ‘alternative completion conditions’, whereby apprentices are able to work as freelancers. Such apprentices receive the usual College-based training but work for a number of employers, undertaking a variety of projects. Looking forward, it is our ambition to increase the number of apprenticeships to which the alternative completion conditions apply to reflect the range of freelance opportunities available within the sector.

Key Recommendations

1. It is vital that small and freelance businesses are supported to train apprentices, particularly through recognition of the time it takes to train to a high level and availability of clear and consistent brand messaging, support and advice.

2. Apprenticeships must last at least one year in order to equip individuals with genuine skills and knowledge. This benchmark should continue to be formally recognised by Government. 

3. Employers should be given significant input into the development of industry-relevant qualifications-particularly the higher level apprenticeship frameworks the industry needs-through networks such as the National Skills Academy.

4. Incentivising employers to take on apprentices is crucial, especially for small and micro-businesses. Government should ensure that existing incentive schemes are continued, and the process of employer engagement checked to ensure accessibility.

5. Government should continue to support mechanisms such as Apprenticeship Training Agencies, Group Training Associations and Alternative Completion Conditions, which facilitate collaborative working between small organisations and make it easier for small businesses to take on apprentices.

6. The careers advice offered throughout the education system should be industry-endorsed and should do more to promote awareness and prestige of apprenticeships amongst young people, teachers and parents. Employers and current cohorts of apprentices should be supported to engage proactively with schools.

About Creative & Cultural Skills

Creative & Cultural Skills is an independent charity supporting the skills and training needs of the UK’s creative and cultural industries. We lead the campaign for fair access to the creative and cultural industries, and have created over 2,000 Creative Apprenticeships in the UK since 2008. We deliver through our Skills Academy, a growing network of employers and training providers who are committed to the provision of high quality, industry-relevant creative education and training, apprenticeships and careers advice. We are licensed as a Sector Skills Council by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. For further information, please visit www.ccskills.org.uk.

January 2013


[1] UKCES, Sector Skills Insights: Digital and Creative, (2012)

[2] Creative & Cultural Skills, Assessing the Return on Investment, Evaluation and Impact of Creative Apprenticeships (2011)

[3] Ibid .

[4] Creative & Cultural Skills, Creative and Cultu ral Industries Workforce Survey, (2009)

[5] Creative & Cultural Skills, Impact and Footprint 2012/13, (2012)

[6] Creative & Cultural Skills, Impact and Footprint 2012/13, (2012)

[7] BIS, Access to Finance for Creative Businesses, (2011)

Prepared 28th January 2013