Schools urged to do more to help students join industry

student2The education sector must ditch the old narrative that creative courses are little more than Mickey Mouse degrees so that young adults can get the skills they need to join one of the fasted growing sectors of the UK economy.

That is the rallying cry from one senior leader in academia, following a new study published on the eve of the publication of this year’s A-level results. It shows three quarters of young adults want to work in the UK’s booming creative industries, but career pathways are still not clear.

The research, conducted with 1,000 young adults and commissioned by Ravensbourne University London, shows 17% of young adults are employed in creative industries and a quarter (26%) are actively seeking employment with another third (33%) expressing interest in working in the sector. The top five industries that young adults are interested in are TV and film (33%), design (28%), fashion (25%), music (23%) and games (22%).

The creative industries are an integral part to the country’s economy, contributing £109bn in 2021 and accounting for 2.3 million jobs in 2022.

Over the previous decade, the creative industries’ workforce grew at almost five times the rate of the rest of the economy, leading to significant skills gaps identified by successive government reports, yet young adults are not aware of the opportunities available to them in this booming sector. In addition, a recent Universities UK report predicted there will be one million new creative services jobs in the wider economy by 2030.

Although there is huge interest in the industry and roles available, less than 25% of the young adults in this study have been recommended this career path by school, or been given any guidance from school, college, or university as to how to get into the sector.

Furthermore, nearly half (42%) would not consider a creative career due to the perception that it is too hard to join the industry, and over a third (37%) are worried there will not be many creative jobs in the future, due to the rise of AI.

Ravensbourne University London vice chancellor Andy Cook said: “The Government’s Creative Sector Vision sets out a 2030 objective for stronger skills and careers pathways, but our creative industries need talent now. It’s important to let school leavers know that there are opportunities available in these sectors and to work with creative business to harness their talent.”

Understanding what matters most to young adults about a career in the creative industry, the research revealed that the most important aspect is that it pays well (32%). However, many young adults were not aware of lucrative roles in high demand within the industry, including digital jobs such as VFX animator (42%) and UX designer (33%), as well as more traditional crafts such as pattern cutter (35%) and broadcast engineer (22%).

The top five salaries for Ravensbourne undergraduates in 2021/22 were OTT engineer (TV/film) £55,000; assistant VFX editor (TV/film) £41,600; production assistant (TV/film) £41,600; front end developer (website design) £40,000; and interactive designer (UX design) £36,000.

Cook added: “We see a large number of people enter the industry wanting to become film directors or fashion designers but they are unaware of the huge number of creative roles available within and beyond the creative industries.

“The creative industries offer an attractive career for many young adults, yet this new research reveals clear barriers that are restricting them from joining. There is a clear disconnect between education, information and the needs of the industry that needs to be resolved. It’s time that we changed the old narrative to champion the skills needed for our economy.”

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