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Self-Made Sector: Working in the creative industries

Author: Roundhouse, Partnership for Young London

Young Londoners have some of the widest access to culture than ever before; with instant music streaming, on-demand TV and film, and an internet library of self-referential memes at their fingertips. Yet opportunity is not being given to all in London’s second biggest economic sector, and they’re fully aware of it.

This research examined what the reality was for those seeking opportunities in the creative industries. Partnership for Young London and Roundhouse spoke to young people from a range of ages, backgrounds and at different stages of their creative career journey, with questions and topics guided by their lived experience of trying to get into the industry.

The researchers found a striking contradiction with respondents, between low expectations and pessimism about the industry, and optimism and defiance that drove them forward towards it. Young Londoners are not only aware of the challenges they face, but now view them as just 'the way it is' in the creative industries.

It was expected that they would have to work for free for a long time, to build their experience or their portfolio. It was expected that they would be working freelance, and face irregular and insecure employment. It was expected that they would face racial discrimination and must change the way they spoke.

Yet they persisted and were resilient in the face of numerous challenges and the lack of support usually provided by teachers or parents. The researchers spoke to many young Londoners who, despite knowing the risks involved, chose to pursue a career that they are passionate about and have talent for.

The creative industries need to stop using unpaid internships

Some organisations in the creative industries have already taken a lead on this, but there remain many unpaid opportunities. To ensure that opportunities in the sector are open and available to all people, regardless of background, the sector needs to stop using unpaid internships.

The industry needs to overhaul its recruitment practices for entry level roles

There is an over-representation of people with a degree in the industry - closing off opportunities to people who cannot afford, or don't want to go to university. The industry should stop requiring degrees for entry-level roles where a degree isn't necessary.

Recruitment practices

Recruitment practices need to be addressed so young people who have chosen other education and training routes are still able to apply for entry-level roles

A new creative careers advice and guidance strategy should be introduced

London needs a new careers advice and guidance strategy for young people who want to work in the creative industries. It is important that the sector is involved in helping design this, and also providing opportunities for it. Furthermore, as outlined in the Bazalgette review, a new ‘attraction strategy’ will help strengthen the talent pipeline, and attract more young people from diverse backgrounds. The strategy needs to engage with parents, guardians, carers and schools as key influencers in children’s life choices.

Support young creative talent through grants

Young people need to be better supported to work and learn in the creative industries – particularly those not entering from Higher Education. There should be access to the same system of student loans, and maintenance grants, for apprenticeships or those starting their own business without going through university. This would enable young people to develop their business with financial backing from the government.

Government should add creative subjects to the EBacc.

Following a decline in creative subjects being taken at school, and a recommendation from the DCMS Select Committee, the Government should add creative subjects to the EBacc.


05 July 2019

Self-Made Sector: Working in the creative industries