From education to employment

Skills Minister Gives Thumbs Up for First Ever UK Creative Industries Apprenticeship

The phrase “creative industries” is an interesting one, writes Jethro Marsh for FE News, largely because it seems to fight itself in its very description.

After all, for the vast majority of the nation, the world of “creative” work is populated by self ““ confessed “bohemian” artists, with long hair whipping from side to side and a tiny sneer always ready to slip into place. With the word “industry”, the ill defined artistic and creative ethos fades away and becomes instead a picture of smoking chimneys, of production lines, and above all of order and regimentation imposed.

However, for the creative sector to be truly productive and for it to qualify for development and support in this brave new century, it must become more responsive to the professional sector’s demands in terms of training and skills. To this end, it has been announced recently that the Government have given their official blessing and support for a new apprenticeship for young people embarking on careers in creative and cultural industries ““ the first such apprenticeship for the sector to be UK ““ wide.

Still on the Drawing Board

The initial phase will be the provision of a framework, prototype apprenticeship programme this autumn ahead of the national roll out in 2008. The programme is currently being drafted by Creative & Cultural Skills, the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for advertising, design, craft, cultural heritage, commercial music and the literary, visual and performing arts. They are chaired by Tony Hall CBE, who is the Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, and their board of trustees are leading employers in their area of responsibility.

The apprenticeship is intended to meet the needs of these employers, indeed to meet the requirements of all employers within the cultural and creative sectors in the UK. Key areas to address are the need to diversify the workforce and to remove barriers for access to employment and training in these sectors, and to offer the purpose-built training framework in a flexible manner as demanded by employers. The partners who are working with the SSC in this project are the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA), the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) in England.

In addition to these partners, commitments have been obtained from the Scottish and Northern Ireland Executives and the Welsh Assembly Government to develop the programme in their territories. Several of the nation’s leading employers have already agreed to take part in the prototype apprenticeship framework. These include music giants EMI and Universal Music Group, UK Unsigned, The National Trust, the Royal Opera House and the Sage, Gateshead. A total of fifty apprenticeship places will be on offer starting from the beginning of September 2006, making use of some £400,000 of funding from the DfES.

Putting Employers at the Heart of Training

Speaking at the special event at “The Hospital” in Central London to mark the first anniversary of Creative & Cultural Skills as an SSC, Skills Minister Phil Hope MP said: “The Government is committed to putting employers firmly in charge of the skills agenda for their sectors. Working through Creative & Cultural Skills and its Creative Apprenticeship Taskforce chaired by Tony Hall, they”ve come forward with some exciting ideas for a framework that I believe will strongly appeal to young people and meet the needs of a sector that’s of growing importance to our economy.

“So I”m pleased that we are able today to announce financial support totalling some £400,000 for the ongoing development process and the prototyping schemes,” he continued. “I applaud the work of the Taskforce to date and look forward to seeing it bear fruit over the coming months. I also welcome the commitment of Creative & Cultural Skills to developing the Creative and Media Specialised Diploma. This is another key plank of our plans for reform of 14-19 learning.”

The Chief Executive of Creative & Cultural Skills, Tom Berwick, said: “Our aim is to embed a culture of apprenticeship in the creative industries across the United Kingdom. Our sector is rightly envied worldwide for its vision, flair, cultural capital and business performance. But that success cannot be taken for granted. Creative Apprenticeships will give talented young people a first- class introduction to working in our sector, equipping them with both job-specific skills and a sound understanding of the wider creative and cultural economy. Crucially, it will seek to help employers – both large and small- to meet pressing skills needs.”

The vocational qualifications awarding body Educational Development International (EDI) have been selected to lead the development process. Their Chief Executive, Nigel Snook, said: “We are delighted that Creative & Cultural Skills has chosen EDI to be its partner in this important project. This is a great opportunity to work leading employers in the creative industries and introduce an apprenticeship framework that will make a real difference in this vibrant and exciting sector of the economy.”

Jethro Marsh

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