Lords Debate Creative Skills



A short but high quality debate in the Lords took place recently on what we are doing to ensure we have the right creative skills for the future.

Sadly we all had only 4 minutes to go into the subject-I chose to look at Schools, apprenticeships and post graduation acquisition of commercial skills . Here is my speech:



And here is the longer speech I would have made with more time!






A big thank you to the  N Baroness Andrews for giving us all the chance to talk about our favourite subject.


The Korean fashion entrepreneur Sunjoo Kim in an inspirational speech to an all party group last year vividly talked of Britain’s future as a Creative Brain Centre, in terms of our creative skills and our archive and museum and gallery resources


The UK has the largest cultural economy in Europe and the creative and cultural industries represent one of our economy’s greatest success stories.


A combination of the need to rebalance our economy and the success of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games has made it clear that our future in Britain lies with our imagination, creativity and invention.


A Report entitled “Creative UK” published only this week from Enders Analysis demonstrates that in the UK we are in the vanguard in the use of digital technology in our creative economy and is experiencing a wave of business creation higher than any other major OECD economy.


So many of the creative industries are interconnected and have a wide economic impact. The scope,  the growth and size of the sector are underestimated in the view of many. I learnt for myself from BALPPA members the other day for instance about the increasing importance of UK creative content and licensing for attractions.


I welcome the work of the Creative Industries Council set up by the Coalition Government. I also want to emphasize as did the CEBR report for the Arts Council last year ” The contribution of the Arts and Culture to the National Economy” that they play an important role in supporting commercial creative industries.

I am delighted that yesterday the Chancellor confirmed that a 20 per cent tax relief would be given to all qualifying theatre productions, rising to 25 per cent for regional theatre.


But as the Culture Media and Sport select Committee made it clear in their Report on “Supporting the Creative Industries” published last September there are a great many challenges to overcome my Lords and there is no room for complacency.


The CBI in their Creative Nation Report and NESTA in their Manifesto for the Creative Economy came to the same conclusion- that in particular the creative and cultural industries face a number of pressing skills shortages exacerbated by the growing inability to recruit talent from abroad. NESTA call it amn alarming mismatch in fact.


They say this is not only in the new digital content industries but in the industries which have previously been analogue such as film, advertising and publishing.


Skills deficiencies have been exposed by digitization.


It is not just a matter of exercising creative skills. In addition as Ian Livingstone and Alex Hope reinforced in their Next Gen Report in 2011 on the video games and visual effects industries, there have concerns about the quality of business skills in the UK’s creative industries . Many creative business lack even basic planning skills.


The industry –except in certain areas such as the BBC-is an area of the economy where formal investment in training has historically been difficult to implement, a largely because of the prevalence of small and micro-businesses.


The creative industries also need to be much more accessible for young people from diverse backgrounds if they are to attract the talent they need. There  is a strong underrepresentation of both women and the BME community as the recent IPPR Report March of the Modern Makers makes clear.




Although the creative industries are a key growth area there has been the danger that  the future of creative education in schools is at risk as a result of the introductoion of  EBACC , the performance measure for secondary schools,


On the IPSOS survey 27% of schools surveyed had withdrawn one or more arts subjects in 2012 as a result of EBacc. In the previous year that was 45%.


The Select Committee said:


The broader arts curriculum has been seriously hit by the Governments approach to performance measurement which we deeply regret


The National Curriculum for 5-14 year old may now include Computer Science but is constructed so that Art and Design and Technology are excluded.


This is at odds with the Henley Review of Cultural Education, let alone the Government’s recent Cultural Education Policy paper which it was so positive in seeking to encourager schools to offer a wider spread of creative subjects?


The truth is we need students going to into the creative industries to be multidisciplinary. Excluding these arts subjects poses a significant threat to the UK’s creative economy.


Can the Minister reassure us? In particular that the new “floor standards” which contain 5 EBACC and 3 other GCSE subjects will ensure that progress is measured across a range of subjects including the arts.


Arts subjects must not only be available to the children of the well off in private education? As  Jude Law the actor said: “ The arts must not be allowed to become a middle class pursuit”




On the other hand the news on apprenticeships in the Creative industries is good. Traditionally this has been a sector that has been very difficult for school leavers without connections to penetrate and where unpaid internships have favoured the children of the better off.


I recently looked at the Apprenticeships website . There are 12 categories of apprenticeships in the Arts Media and Publishing area


The number of Apprenticeships for example in Creative and Digital Media is substantial, all linked to training providers.


The All Party Music Group recently heard about the launch of UK Music’s recently nationwide apprenticeship scheme. Through means such as the UK Music Skills Academy it is committed to delivering 200 new paid apprenticeship opportunitiesw across the music industry.


Tony, Lord Hall has  opened up the BBC to apprenticeships. New initiatives were recently announced on top of a the existing ones and it will reach its 1% of the workforce target-170- two years early this October. They also reach out to young people in schools and via social media to talk about the television industry as a career.




BSkyB/Ch 4/ Channel 5/ITV/Sony, and many other in the creative industries  launched “Creative Access  in 2012 to provide opportunities for paid internships in the creative industries for young people from under-represented black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. The industries covered include film, advertising, performing arts, publishing, journalism, tv and radio.  The scheme has offered more than 300 internships / graduate roles in 2012-13.


Higher Education


Moving on to Higher Education, we have some fantastic institutions which are eagerly sought after worldwide by students wishing to develop their creative talent.


But figures published by UCAS indicate a 16.4% decline in applications to Creative Arts and Design courses between 2011 and 2012 .


This may demonstrate a lack of confidence that these courses are the right ones and will lead to a job in the industry. The pace of change is course rapid but also creative SME’s are not well adapted to inputting into course design.


The Creative Industries Council Skillset Skills Group in their excellent report in 2012 made the strong point too that many courses lack industry relevant skills.


Skillset’s Tick accreditation scheme for these courses which arose from their recommendations is therefore much to be welcomed.


As the CIC Skillset Skills Group recommended it is important that universities equip students not just with craft and technical skills but with the commercial skills that the creative economy needs.


Post university/college there is also a need for more high-quality internships and work experience placements to provide learners with the business and entrepreneurial skills so often perceived to be lacking in university leavers.


That is why I so strongly welcome initiative such as those of the British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN programme


NEWGEN offers catwalk designers financial support towards their show costs and the opportunity to use the BFC Catwalk Show Space. Others receive sponsored presentation or exhibition space to showcase their collections, offering an important introduction for young UK-based designers to influential press and buyers from around the world. NEWGEN also provides business and mentoring support through the BFC in partnership with a number of professional firms including my own.


There should as the CIC Skillset Report recommends be continuing professional development.


The new Creative Skillset Creative Catalyst network will provide this. Music Leaders Network established with support from Creative & Cultural Skills and funding via Arts Council England is another good example.

So there has been considerable progress in the sector. There are now a myriad of different schemes at all levels but we must now do much more.

In particular we must make sure all the pathways to qualifications and careers in the creative sector are clearer than ever with far better information to those whom they are aimed at.










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