Articles from Creative & Cultural Skills

The Seven Year Itch – The State of the Nations

The Challenge Having spent the last seven years working outside of the UK with international skills systems and policy, I found on my return that the UK cultural sector skills landscape still had many of the same issues it had when I left:

Creativity, the world of work, and social cohesion: Thinking imaginatively is key to engaging students and delivering excellent teaching

As a child, the received wisdom was that I wasn’t creative. My sister was the creative one, I was the academic one. You couldn’t be both – and it was ‘better’ anyway to be academic.

'T' shaped skills in the creative industries

"The ideal worker of the next decade is 'T-shaped' – they bring deep understanding of at least one field, but have the capacity to converse in the language of a broader range of disciplines" - Future Work Skills 2020, Institute for the Future.

Backstage passes for major music festivals gives students genuine insights

Being part of the National Skills Academy, offers many opportunities, including the chance to give students hands-on industry experience. Rob West, Programme Director at Creative & Cultural Skills, went along to one of the annual Festival Side Stage visits to find out more about what happens on the day:

Building a creative nation: the next decade

There is a lot of anecdotal reporting about the importance of the creative industries and views about the future growth and skills needs of the sector. Earlier this year Creative & Cultural Skills brought together recent reports and the evidence base to give a view as to what needs to happen in education and in industry for the sector to thrive. This is outlined through the publication, Building a creative nation: the next decade some of the key points of which are highlighted here.Official statistics tell us that the number of people employed in the UK creative sector is equivalent to the major public sectors like education and health with approximately 1.8 million people working in each. The creative industries contribute over £77 billion per year to the UK economy - an all-time high. From statistics we know that employment in this sector increased by 8.6 per cent between 2011 and 2012, compared to a 0.7 per cent rate for the UK economy as a whole. This makes the creative industries the fastest growing sector, and there's no sign of slowing down. Also we know that the creative industries have never lost staff numbers through three major recessions since the 1970s, but most fascinating of all at a time when US research suggests that 47% of current employment is at risk due to automation creative occupations are at low risk of being taken over by robots. We find that creative jobs are much more resistant to automation with 87% of the jobs described in the publication said to be at low risk. As a sector creative and cultural industries are resilient. Creative people re-invent themselves all the time.

Building a Creative Nation with the Further Education sector

A great deal is said about the growth of the creative industries and skills shortages. but less is said about the specific challenges to educators, particularly at post-16.

Watch this space! - the backstage training centre

It can be surprising how little attention the FE sector receives from the mainstream media considering all that goes on. One of the things we hope our FE Founder Colleges can get from their association with the National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural is a little bit of 'stardust' from projects such as our exclusive Design competitions with the Royal Opera House that in turn can help FE promote their own colleges and students.On another positive note, we would hope that the building that is currently being constructed in Essex next to the Royal Opera House's Production Workshop - our new national training centre for backstage technicians in the live music and theatre industries - will also provide opportunities for better coverage of FE through their engagement and association. The access FE will have to this centre, which is big enough for the world's best rock bands to rehearse in before they go out on tour, builds nicely upon opportunities we are currently providing through our industry membership with FE learners shadowing fit ups and get ins at major music festivals this summer including Glastonbury, Latitude and the Big Chill.The development of the first purpose built centre in England for developing offstage and backstage skills and training offers great opportunities for genuine, effective employer engagement for the FE sector. The centre will provide a chance to meet, explore, and debate how to get best value for FE from a building supporting industry expos and demonstrations, equipment testing and training.If there are any real opportunities to be found in this development then we're confident they'll be picked up by our close association with South Essex College (one of our Founder Colleges) who are looking into potentially offering some of their courses at the centre once it opens in 2012 . FE will then get access to unique real-time training with some of the world's best bands and theatre companies releasing a stream of innovation in respect of potential new work based learning models.

Become an Industry Assessor

What does the Chief Stage Electrician for Opera North, the Executive Director at Skillscene, and the Operations and Facilities Manager at Bristol's Colston Hall have in common? Answer: they are all part of an interesting group of Industry Assessors being promoted to the FE sector by the National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural.These people from Industry are qualified as Assessors and came initially from a project run by industry body Skillscene working with PLASA Qualifications whereby candidates gained the old A1 Assessors Award - the professional Level 3 qualification for people to be NVQ Assessors.Over 25 people qualified to assess competence in the work place through this first project, but the problem with all this is that although 12 Rigging A1 assessors are used for the PLASA Rigging Qualification, the technical theatre arena in which most of these assessors earn their living doesn't have any NVQs for them to assess. However, as with many Assessors who previously specialised in delivering NVQ's, some of these people are now becoming involved in Apprenticeships.The National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural offer a service promoting these assessors on their website. They are promoted to FE colleges as potential assessors for the Apprenticeship, and they have been documenting their experiences. The encounter is clearly valued as shown by these comments from Midlands Offstage Consortium's Sebastian Barnes:"I've been fortunate to be employed on a freelance basis, to help two Creative Apprentices work through the Level 3 EDI pathways, Cultural and Heritage Venue Operations. This is my first chance to put the excellent, PLASA A1 Assessor training into practice. So far I'm finding it interesting and rewarding. Having completed the first two meetings with my candidates, planning their assessment and looking at evidence, I can begin to see the patterns and pace that suits assessment in the Creative Sector."Assessors are integral in making the Government's apprenticeship targets a reality, whilst most critically ensuring positive outcomes for both the learner and employer. It is therefore clear to the Skills Academy that there needs to be a raising of the profile of industry assessors to the Further Education sector.Assessors play a crucial role in maintaining the standards of learning and teaching, as well as ensuring every scheme delivers training that is relevant to both the learner and the employer. In order to maintain and improve the standards of Apprentice schemes, it is vital that more industry talent is encouraged into assessing. The substantial increase in Apprenticeship starts - over 700 now in the Creative industries from 0 in 2008 - is excellent news, but delivery could prove problematic if there aren't enough qualified assessors available. This problem is exacerbated by the noticeable shift from Permanent to Freelance Assessor job vacancies that are being advertised.The Skills Academy is pleased to be able to promote individuals who have successfully gone through an appropriate industry assessor training programme. Assessors use their knowledge to deliver programmes that support candidates to meet the industry standard and gather appropriate evidence. Access to extensive, hands on and up-to-date job experience and industry knowledge is a boon for FE.Becoming an Industry Assessor is a good opportunity for someone looking to use their professional expertise to support learning and development in the Further Education sector. Assessors can combine the role with their existing job after taking a qualification. The National Skills Academy industry assessor pool can be made available to further education organisations such as awarding bodies, colleges and training providers as they seek the industry knowledge to support work in relation to Apprenticeships and in other areas.With the newly introduced Assessor Development Programme - Skills Academy industry members could train one or more of their staff as an in-house assessor available to assess levels of competency amongst employees as opportunities naturally arise. The National Skills Academy are currently talking to their Further Education Founder Colleges to see if any of them could facilitate this.

Is the creative and cultural sector finally buying the idea of Apprenticeships?

As the National Skills Academy get ready to announce the 500th Creative Apprentice - are business in the creative and cultural industries finally buying the idea of Apprenticeships?More and more FE colleges are now becoming aware of the fact that apprenticeships can help businesses across all sectors, including the creative and cultural. Colleges are seeing the attraction of a switch from providing full time academic style courses, towards more apprenticeship style, where students might spend one or two days at college and the rest of the week with a local employer, whilst organisations such as the National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural have set themselves up in a matchmaking role through their Apprenticeship Training Service, and have over 230 employers willing to consider forming partnerships with colleges.The creative and cultural sector has its own particular issues in terms of demand for apprentices. Whereas for industries such as construction and hairdressing apprenticeships are run of the mill - it's a genuine culture shift that's going on in the creative sector. Types of apprenticeships are now available in technical theatre, community arts and education, administration, finance, marketing, costume and wardrobe, front of house, live events...the list goes on! However the fact is when the National Skills Academy started in 2008 there were zero apprenticeships because from the education establishment perspective there was no perceived need.That appears to be changing. Skills Academy Founder College Stratford-upon-Avon has been recently celebrating National Apprenticeship Week 2011, and has discovered that their latest enrolment is the 500th Creative Apprentice in the UK!The Creative Apprenticeship consists of a vocational qualification at Level 2 or 3 and a theory based qualification at Level 2 or 3 offering an alternative route into the creative industries. They offer young people the opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge and attain qualifications whilst doing both on-the-job and off-the-job training with the on-the-job component allowing people to break the vicious circle of 'no experience equals no job'.Over recent years Stratford-upon-Avon College, through the National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural, has developed a strong relationship with Birmingham Hippodrome and both organisations are working together to deliver education and training to young people who have recently embarked on a career in the creative and cultural sector. The 500th Creative Apprentice at Birmingham Hippodrome is therefore a significant signpost that the creative and cultural sector is finally warming up to the idea of taking on apprentices.The Birmingham Hippodrome have greatly expanded their scheme since launching apprenticeships 18 months ago and currently have 5 apprentices at the theatre. FE Colleges around the country are now having discussions with local employers in the creative and cultural sector, and are finding not only theatres but museums, arts venues, and community arts organisations interested in taking on a creative apprentice or offering a creative apprenticeship to their existing staff.Pauline Tambling, Managing Director, National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural says: "We're so pleased that Apprenticeships in the creative and cultural industries are taking off – it is wonderful to see the great results and positive responses from employers. I'm thrilled that Birmingham Hippodrome working in partnership with Stratford upon Avon College has had such a positive experience of hiring an apprentice and look forward to hearing how they progress in what I hope will be a varied and exciting career in the industry".Luke Stubbins, the 500th Creative Apprentice, certainly feels that is an option for him: "I would definitely recommend becoming an apprentice. It's a very good way to find out about an industry that you may be interested in. Once you've done an apprenticeship you will know if that industry is the one for you."Different entry routes into the sector are an important progression for the creative and cultural industries. The Creative Apprenticeships is the first industry approved and government funded apprenticeship framework for the creative and cultural industries, and now there are 500 of them maybe we are finally starting to see an interesting new route really beginning to open up - supported by FE colleges. To find out more about apprenticeships within the Creative and cultural sector contact [email protected] West is education and curriculum manager for the National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural Skills, a freelance writer and arts consultant, and FE tutor

Do FE Colleges know enough about the creative and cultural sector?

Autumn sees the second annual Offstage Choices events. In over twenty theatres and arenas around the country venues will be opening their doors to teenagers throughout October and November to give them an opportunity to find out about some of the careers which exist backstage and offstage in our creative industries.However there's a potential problem that the organisers (the National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural) are only too aware of. What happens if a young person becomes interested in one of the careers they've been introduced to, but back at their school or college there's little or no information, advice and guidance relevant to them?Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) has become a more visible part of the services offered by FE colleges. Walk into the impressive looking Gateshead College and it's the first thing you'll see as you enter the building. A number of other colleges, such as the Grimsby Institute of Further & Higher education, have polices relating to IAG that include responses to queries within 48 hours, appointments outside of normal office hours, and 24 hour access to opportunities to submit email requests and answer-phone enquires.The Education Act 2008 created the duty to provide young people with impartial IAG that covers all their options and promotes their best interests, and it's almost a year now since the previous Government launched a new strategy to make careers education and Information, Advice and Guidance more relevant to today's world.

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