Last week I was invited to speak on the topic of the future of work at the NESTA Creative Economy 2019 symposium entitled ‘Alternative Futures’. This event brought together policy-makers, practitioners, researchers and businesses to explore the biggest challenges and potential future of the creative economy.

With the success of this vibrant part of the economy in no small part dependent on our world-class talent base, it’s perhaps no surprise that one of the key questions the event sought to debate is “where the creatives of the future will come from?”

Like other parts of the UK economy, the creative industries will continue to be impacted by a range of ‘mega trends’. While research suggests that creative roles are less at risk of automation and that creativity is likely to become a skill in even greater demand across the economy, it is undoubtable that technology is driving major shift across the sector.

Further, technology is not the only megatrend that will shape the future. Social, demographic and consumer trends are having a significant impact across the sector, from Games to Museums, galleries and libraries, and Publishing. Globalisation continues to create opportunities in new markets, give rise to new international competitors and drive closer integration of global value chains. Sustainability is hugely important, particularly for parts of the sector like Architecture.

These trends – coupled with growing concerns about the adequacy of the talent pipeline, the levels of investment in skills, and a lack of diversity amongst the creative workforce (see Lesley’s recent blog on this) – raise important questions about where the sector will find the skills and talent it needs for future success; and how the workforce can upskill and reskill as industry needs continue to evolve.

These are questions we are grappling with through our work on the ScreenSkills Skills Forecasting Service and forthcoming research for the new Policy and Evidence Centre for the Creative Industries. These studies will seek to make sense of the megatrends; explore what they really mean for businesses and workers in the sector, and get under the skin of how skill needs will change.

Perhaps most importantly, we need to better understand what we need to be doing now, to ensure this vibrant part of the UK economy can continue to flourish in the future; and this raises some even bigger questions: How can we future-proof the skills system and get it working better for the creative economy? How can we build agility and resilience through professional development and adult learning? How can we equip leaders with the people-centred management practices they will need to build productive businesses that thrive in the future?

We’ll be reporting back in the autumn, but if you’d like to work with us to take on these gritty issues, please do get in touch.


About the author

Heather Carey

Deputy Director of the Work Foundation