Industry urged to inspire young people into creative career pathways


Mary Rose – Image by Louise Haywood-Schiefer

— Figures show skills shortages in creative industries are increasing —


The creative industries are today urged to get behind a careers week designed to lift the lid on jobs and pathways to encourage more young people to join the sector – and help fix a growing skills shortage.


Discover! Creative Careers and Creative UK are calling on employers in the creative industries to support more young people into the sector in the run-up to the 2024 careers week in November. It will see thousands of students paired with businesses across the creative industries, so they get a taste of possible careers through encounters with workplaces and employees. Its aim is to support the sector to attract more young people from all backgrounds into the creative industries, especially those from disadvantaged families, developing in turn a more diverse and inclusive workforce.


Government figures show that the sector is growing at more than 1.5 times the rate of the wider economy over the past decade, with the sector’s Gross Value Added standing at an estimated £125 billion in 2023. However, because of some misperceptions of the sector, general inequality of access and limited opportunities in some schools, the creative industries are often overlooked as a viable option for young people when considering their future careers.


Despite the clear economic value of the creative industries to the UK, the sector is also facing significant skills gaps and shortages, with almost half of creative employers reporting skills issues. Research by TIGA in 2023 revealed that 68% of games development studios found it difficult to fill vacancies in the workforce due to skills shortages, impacting on sector growth and delaying new releases.


In a report published the House of Lords last year, former Skills Minister Robert Halfon MP said that “88 per cent of employers in the creative occupations find it hard to recruit higher-level skilled individuals, compared to around 38 per cent of employers across the economy.”


Discover! Creative Careers Week will therefore work to drive growth and build a sustainable talent pipeline in the sector, while also inspiring the next generation of games designers, make-up artists, set builders, accountants, to name a few of the occupations that underpin the UK’s thriving creative industries, including computer games, theatre and advertising. 


With preparations for the week underway, Discover! Creative Careers is calling on the creative industries to register their interest to take part and deliver activities for young people during the week. This could include workplaces tours, competitions, hosting a Q&A, participating in a school visit, taking part in a workshop or delivering an online activity.


Last year’s Discover! Creative Careers Week saw more than 25,000 encounters with students through a mix of in-person events at workplaces and in schools and through a virtual programme delivered in partnership by Speakers for Schools. Whilst the careers week is predominately aimed at inspiring young people from under represented backgrounds to consider a future career in the Creative Industries, Discover! also wants to ensure that careers professionals and educators are equipped to support decision-making and offer a range of year-round resources, training and online events.


Taking place 18th – 22nd November 2024, Discover! Creative Careers Week will inspire students through a series of activities and presentations aimed at showcasing the benefits of the industry and what a creative career can mean for those who would never have thought it possible. The week is aimed at ensuring students taking part meet professionals to learn more about their industry, career pathways and opportunities for work experience.


Mary Rose, Discover! Creative Careers programme lead, said:


“The UK is a world leader in the creative industries. Whether in film, music, architecture or the wider arts and creative areas, the talent we produce is the envy of many countries. We are a global success story, showcasing the very best of British talent.


“But it is vital that we keep producing the brilliant individuals who make the creative industries so special, and that we attract people from all backgrounds so that we access the whole talent pool.


“The growing skills shortages are a real worry – but Discover! Creative Careers Week is a brilliant opportunity for young people to experience what careers are open to them.


“Engagement with industry is critical in breaking down these barriers, so we urge our peers to join us as we endeavour to raise aspirations and change lives.”


Sarah Gregory, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Creative UK, the membership organisation created to champion industry collaboration, added:


“Discover! Creative Careers has been outstanding in its ambition to reach and engage young people with the vast array of job opportunities that the creative sector holds. Discover! offers young people and educators the opportunity to engage with jobs that they would otherwise not encounter, demystifying and debunking misconceptions and affirming the sector’s standing as a viable career opportunity.


“Without this engaged pipeline of diverse talent, the sector risks stifling its growth and underachieving on its ambitions.”


Companies can find out more and sign up to participate in Discover! Creative Careers Week (18th – 22nd November), here.