New Work Foundation research identifies critical issues and evidence gaps regarding talent and diversity in the creative industries

By Heather Carey and Melanie Wilkes

The Work Foundation is part of an exciting new research consortium, the Policy and Evidence Centre for Creative Industries (PEC). We are leading research within the PEC on skills, talent and diversity in partnership with other researchers.

We’re pursuing a dynamic and diverse research agenda, responsive to the changing needs of industry and policymakers, shaped by an initial phase comprising synthesis of existing evidence and extensive consultation. We have just published Skills, talent & diversity in the creative industries, a report which outlines  findings from this initial evidence scoping exercise .

We considered over 300 sources of evidence and engaged 80 individual stakeholders from 50 different organisations drawn from across the creative industries.

The research suggests that while the outlook for the Creative Industries is bright; the sector faces a number of pressing challenges relating to talent and diversity that if unaddressed threaten to undermine future success. Some of these challenges relate to the nature of work and working practices in the sector; others to the way in which we value and develop creativity and creative skills. This includes issues that are more immediate or short-term in nature, alongside challenges that are deep-rooted and represent longer-term shift. In total the report identifies nine pressing skills and diversity challenges.

As might be expected given the diverse range of activities that comprise the creative economy, some of these challenges are more distinct to particular parts of the creative sector. Similarly, in areas where policy has been devolved (such as education) the picture varies across the UK nations. The research has sought to acknowledge these differences, while also developing a coherent and compelling narrative to help shape better policy and practice relating to skills, talent and diversity in the creative industries.

The synthesis and scoping exercise also aimed to take an objective view on the current evidence base pertaining to these issues. It suggests there is already a vast array of research and analysis from academia and the wider research community, alongside insights and evidence compiled by wider stakeholders in the arts, culture and creative industries including sub-sector and occupational trade bodies, Government in each of the devolved nations and others. It also, however, identifies a number of information failures and thematic evidence gaps.

These gaps provide steer to shape the forward research programme for the PEC, including immediate research priorities and an ongoing programme of insight.

This includes: the establishment of a UK sector skills monitor to identify pressing employment issues and track progress in addressing skills and diversity challenges; targeted Future Foresight reviews to assess the implications of changes in the workplaces and skills needs; sub-sector and occupational skills reviews to explore evolving careers and skills in specific sectors and different parts of the UK; and a series of policy reviews to inform the development of new policies and programmes and assess what works.

Continuous engagement with the industry will be essential to the success of this project – we would love to hear from individuals interested in participating in consultations, attending events or supporting our research.  Please email me on mwilkes@theworkfoundation.com if you would like to get involved.