Creative Industries – MMC group drives debate on skills and growth
The UK’s creative industries provide around 2 million jobs and are recognised by government as a key growth area. In 2011 employment in the sector grew at twice the rate of the economy as a whole. However, recent feedback from employers and specialist recruiters has highlighted a number of key challenges for the sector – in particular the rapidly evolving skills needs.
One of David Cameron’s first major speeches as Prime Minister, focused on the need to transform the economy and highlighted the importance of ensuring that creative industries not only acted as a stimulus for growth but played a major role in the UK’s economic recovery. Achieving this must involve a combination of boosting skills in the sector and providing the financial investment necessary to stimulate growth.
The recent roundtable hosted by the REC Marketing, Media and Creative (MMC) group brought together a coalition of recruiters, employers, educationalists and professional bodies - such as the Institute of Marketing, the Public Relations Consultants Association and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising - to debate current employment trends in the sector.
The outcome is a series of practical recommendations on generating sustained growth and employment in the sector that will be presented to government next week. There remains a ‘skills disconnect’ between what job-seekers have to offer and what employers in the sector are looking for. One example is the increasing need for digital skills in the PR and marketing sectors.
Employers are also noting significant gaps in softer skills such as communication, interpersonal skills and commercial awareness. More needs to be done to prepare young people for the world of work - for example by embedding employability within the school curriculum. Employers and specialist recruiters can also play a key role by working with local schools and colleges to raise awareness amongst future generations of workers. Facilitating this kind of co-operation is one of the aims of the REC’s Youth Employment Charter.
Related challenges include the need to manage expectations of young people coming into sectors such as marketing and advertising and to promote apprenticeships as a viable route into the jobs market. Some progress has been made in this area, with more employers recognising that apprenticeships are no longer the preserve blue collar industries. Recent research shows that apprenticeships provide a real return on investment for many organisations – this must be embraced as an opportunity rather than a fall-back.
However, the administration involved can be a barrier for many employers which is why intermediaries such as recruitment agencies could play an increasingly important role in helping clients implement and manage such schemes. On a similar note, recruiters could also play a central role in helping employers in the creative industries sector to run internship programmes – especially due to the increased need for a fair and transparent selection process.
As the economy continues to undergo fundamental restructuring and the pace of change in the world of work accelerates, the UK creative industry must be nurtured if it is to remain ahead of its global competitors. There is a plethora of stakeholders involved in this agenda and one of the core aims of the MMC group is to bring these parties together and provide an on-going platform for debate on skills, and growth.
Feedback from recent discussions have already been taken forward with the new employment minister Mark Hoban and the group is developing into a key voice on employment issues in the creative industry. The end goal is to help make a real difference as well as continuing to showcase to government, clients and candidates the contribution of specialist recruiters in the sector.