William Eichler 17 January 2023

Council chiefs welcome call to address creative skills ‘blind spot’

Council chiefs welcome call to address creative skills ‘blind spot’ image
Image: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com.

Local authority leaders have welcomed a call from MPs for a cross-Government focus on fixing the educational ‘blind spots’ impacting the creative industries and addressing the digital skills shortage.

A report published today by the Communications and Digital Committee warned that the UK’s creative industries are held back by policies ‘characterised by incoherence and barriers to success’.

Entitled At risk: our creative future, the report highlights the fact that the UK’s creative industries were worth more than £115bn to the UK economy before the pandemic, and make up as many as one in eight businesses across the country.

Their contribution to the economy in 2019 was more than the aerospace, life sciences and automotive industries combined, according to the report.

However, the committee warned that the UK risks losing its leading position in this industry due to uncompetitive tax incentives; ‘blind spots’ in education and skills policy; proposals to relax intellectual property law; and the ending of the Creative Industries Clusters Programme.

The committee also said that the Government was failing to take the creative industries seriously, a fact illustrated by the perception across Government that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is known as the ‘ministry of fun’.

At risk: our creative future sets out a number of recommendations aimed at securing the future of the UK’s creative sector, including a call for the Department for Education to encourage students to learn a blend of creative and digital skills.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston, chair of the committee, said: ‘The UK’s creative industries are an economic powerhouse and have been a huge success story. But the fundamentals that underpin our success are changing, and rivals are catching up. The Government’s failure to grasp both the opportunities and risks is baffling.

‘International competitors are championing their creative industries and seizing the opportunities of new technology. But in the UK we’re seeing muddled policies, barriers to success, and indifference to the sector’s potential. We acknowledge the Government has introduced important programmes in recent years, but we are concerned past success has bred complacency.’

Responding to the publication of the report, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, chair of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: ‘The creative industries are an important driver of local economies: prior to the pandemic, they accounted for 2.2 million jobs, geographically dispersed in more than 700 micro clusters across the UK.

‘To support councils to maximise the potential of the creative sector, we need a joined up, devolved approach to skills, that recognises the value of cultural and creativity at every level of the education system. Councils can play an important role in diversifying access to creative careers and we support the report’s calls for a cross-government focus on addressing skills shortages in the sector.’

A Government spokesperson said: ‘The Government is completely committed to supporting the creative industries.

‘From product design and video games to music and film, they are a stellar UK success story. We are investing £50m to promote the creative industries at home and internationally, helping to drive economic growth and create jobs on top of tax reliefs and skills programmes to help get more young people into the sector.

‘We will shortly publish our Creative Industries Sector Vision, which will set out our ambitions for the years to come.’

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