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Sector information

This contains an overview of the sector as a whole, details future trends in employment together with skill gaps and workforce development issues.

Creative and Cultural Skills', a Sector Skills Council, remit covers these eight sub-sectors:

  • Advertising
  • Craft
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Design
  • Music
  • Visual arts - all visual art, including drawing painting, sculpture and installation art.
  • Literary arts - writers, critics and editors though it does not extend into publishing and newspapers.
  • Performing arts - producers and directors, actors, choreographers, dancers, entertainers, opera, theatre, mime, street performance and all other aspects of creating, producing and staging performing arts.

How many people work in the creative and cultural sector?

542,470 people currently work in the creative and cultural industries as their main job. The creative and cultural sector has experienced rapid growth in the UK over the last ten years – and this is set to continue in the years to come. By 2014, these numbers are predicted to increase by a further 200,000.

Work in the eight industries/sub-sectors is often uncertain and can be heavily dependent on freelancers, the self-employed, short-contract workers and volunteers.  Many workers have ‘portfolio’ careers, often holding down more than one job. 27,410 people work in a ‘creative’ second job. Two thirds of these are self-employed.

Seasonal work plays a significant part in the arts sector – summer and Christmas being particularly busy times of year. There are 30,300 temporary jobs across the sector.  Seasonal jobs make 13% of temporary jobs. 52% of these temporary jobs are fixed contract or fixed task work.

101,570 freelancers work in the creative and cultural industries, that’s 19% of the total footprint:

  • just 1% of freelancers work in advertising and cultural heritage
  • 18% work in Music
  • 35% work in Design
  • 45% work in the Arts

Source: Skills Needs Assessment 2007

Creative and cultural sector employers

There are over 62,000 businesses in the creative and cultural sector.

Key statistics:

  • half of the businesses in the sector have a turnover of less than £100,000
  • Music and Advertising have the highest number of large businesses (i.e. employing more than 250 people)
  • almost 85% of businesses in the sector employ less than five people
  • 94% of businesses in the sector employ less than 10 people, compared to 83% across the whole economy

Few businesses in the sector are facing difficulties recruiting because applicants lack the skills required.  Only 4% of businesses report skills shortage vacancies, which is just below the whole economy average (5%) indicating that such labour market issues are not especially prevalent.

Sources: Skills Needs Assessment 2007 and The Creative and Cultural Skills Footprint 06/07 2006

For infomation on the number of employers by region go to the regional/national section.

For more information on organisations in the sector see:

Proportion of creative and cultural organisations by size and nation, 2004
Number of businesses in the creative industries in the UK, 1997-2006

Economic profile of the sector

The creative and cultural industries are the UK’s fastest growing sector. The total creative footprint (covering all the UK’s creative industries, not just the Creative & Cultural Skills sectors) covers 7.3% of the economy and is growing at 5% per year. Within the Creative & Cultural Skills footprint, a total of 542,470 people work across 62,145 businesses in advertising, cultural heritage, design, music and the arts. The GVA (Gross Value Added) output per employee in 2006 was £34,940 per employee, compared to a GB average of £33,374.

The creative and cultural industries fall under the tertiary sector of economic activity – that is to say, they tend to provide services rather than tangible goods.

Source: Skills Needs Assessment 2007

For a profile of UK goods and services see:

UK balance of trade in goods and services, 2005

Demand for employees

Between 2004-2014, employment is projected to increase by 15% in the creative and cultural sector.  As an expanding sector, coupled with a comparatively high replacement demand ratio, the total requirement in this sector is equivalent to more than 50% of current employment for the period 2004-2014.  In total, more than 200,000 new appointments can be expected to be made in this sector over the next 10 years.

Almost 75% of employment in the creative and cultural industries created over 2004-2014 is through replacement demand and only 25% due to expansion demand.

The number of Associate Professional and Technical roles will grow by 66%, elementary occupations will grow the least 20% and new jobs will be the result of replacement demand, not expansion (i.e. replacing those workers who have retired or left the sector).

Sources: Working Futures 2004-2014 (sectoral report) 2006 and Skills Needs Assessment 2007

For more data on expansion and replacement demand see:

Total requirement by SOC2000 major occupational group, 2004-2014
Expansion and replacement demand (core activities), 2004-2014

Recruitment difficulties

Around 12% of creative and cultural businesses have not been able to recruit into a particular role in the last year; whilst a further 33% are not experiencing difficulties and 55% have not attempted to recruit over that period.

More recruitment difficulties are noted in Wales and Northern Ireland,  than in England and Scotland. Across the English regions,  recruitment difficulty is similar the breakdown in absolute job availability. The figures for the South West region are similar to those in Northern Ireland and Wales at 15.9%, whereas the South East at 7.5% and Yorkshire are well below the country averages whilst London is close to the overall England average. 

Only 43% of respondents in London report that they are not recruiting. The similar figure for Yorkshire in a much smaller creative and cultural industries market place is 63% (i.e., 20% more London businesses are recruiting and on a higher employment and firm base).

Employers report that applicants lack the skills and in respect of qualifications it is far more muted at 11%.  Research across the Footprint in one to one interviews and discussion groups would suggest that many employers feel that employees and potential employees lack a wide range of business and administrative skills. This is consistent across the Footprint.

Amongst all employers there is a high level of dissatisfaction with the skills base of their potential possibly, existing employees. It is suggested that there is a skills training requirement within the existing workforces.

Source: Skills Needs Assessment 2007

For creative and cultural roles affected by recruitment difficulties see:

Roles most affected by recruitment difficulties, 2006

Future skills needs

The creative and cultural sectors are both large and complex, ranging from the performing arts through to technical production and support, and including large numbers of micro-businesses, self-employed freelance workers, short-contract workers and volunteers.

Skills gaps (both immediate and predicted) have been identified in the following areas of the Creative and Cultural Skills Footprint: IT and new technology, project management, people management, generic and transferable skills. Key skills gap amongst the current workforce, with 25% off businesses indicate that there are skills gaps in their workforce: IT skills (25% of businesses); and Technical skills (i.e. being up to date with technology and specific technical specialisms, etc) are
lacking in 15% of businesses.

There are a number of key skills needs that will impact on the creative and cultural industries in the future, including: 

  • Management 
  • Leadership
  • Information and Digital Technology
  • Business Skills/Professionalism
  • Negotiation 
  • Selling Skills/Marketing and PR

There are two apparently contradictory trends in skills demand: increasing specialisation (especially among freelance workers), and a need for generalists (people with high level skills and wide-ranging experience). The latter could be interpreted as a need to increase the level of multi-skilling.

Source: Skills Needs Assessment 2007

Key future drivers

Across the whole sector these are several influences and future drivers, including:

Globalisation: A global village, cheaper transport, new bases of competition and the move towards a ‘Knowledge economy.’  Globalisation presents different challenges to different aspects of thesector.  Activities such as Advertising and Music are established in worldwide competitive activity and the impact and opportunity of digitalisation is proportionate to the extent that a sector is able to deliver products across the new digital platforms.

Government policy: Employment legislation such as minimum wage, health and safety, the regeneration agenda.

Technological change: The ‘convergence of media,’ rise of the Internet as a new media, technology led specialisms and the changing face of the market.

Changing demographics: An ageing population and an increasingly diverse society.

Environmental change: The knock-on effects of climate change, affecting areas such as consumer preferences and the supply chain.

A changing job market: The advent of flexible working, the increasing use of freelancers and the changing role of volunteers in the workforce.  Self-employment, part-time work and holding an arts related job alongside a non-arts job are common characteristics of employment in the sector; a trend which is expected to grow.  Volunteers are very much in demand in sub-sectors such as Cultural Heritage, whose organisations are mainly non profit-making permanent organisations.

Olympics 2012: A one-off short to medium term impact that will present numerous opportunities for the sector, but there is a challenge in identifying and prioritising these and manage expectations.

Each of these key drivers will have inevitable effects on the creative and cultural industries into the future:

  • Globalisation will open up international economies, present opportunities to exploit cheap travel, create new markets and change competition
  • Changing demographics will put pressures on current workforce make-ups
  • Technological change will create uncertainty, but also create new opportunities for communication
  • New markets for creative products and services and change the way people work; Environmental change will force changes in the way people consume, travel and wor
  • Government policy will create new markets and opportunities, but also limit others and require constant review of working practices;
  • The job market is changing and will continue to be characterised by an increase in freelancers and flexible working arrangements.  This will change the way businesses operate and create a greater challenge to train individuals.

Sources: Skills Needs Assessment 2007 and Gap Analysis and Market Testing 2007

For sub-sector information see:

Cultural heritage
Literary arts
Performing arts
Visual arts
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