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Sector Information

The creative and cultural sector includes the following industries:

  • 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.

These industries are under the remit of the Creative and Cultural Skills Sector Skills.


Employment in the creative and cultural industries

678,480 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 with an increase of 9% between 2006/07 and 2008/09 – and growth in the sector is likely to continue despite the recession. A further 151,000 people will be needed in the sector by 2017.

Work in the sector 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.

Key statistics:

  • The sector contributes £24.8 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy each year.
  • There are 678,480 people working in the sector, of which: 29% is employed in the design industry; 15% in music; 15% in performing arts; 13% in craft; 11% in literary arts; 8% in cultural heritage; 6% in visual arts; and 3% in advertising.
  • 41% of the workforce is self-employed.
  • 70% of the visual arts workforce is self-employed, compared with 4% in the cultural heritage workforce.
  • 27% of the workforce is employed part-time.
  • 39% of the visual arts workforce is employed part-time.

Source: Sector Skills Agreement for the Creative and Cultural Industries 2010 and Creative and Cultural Industry Impact and Footprint 2008/09

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Creative and cultural sector employers

There are 74,640 businesses in the creative and cultural sector, of which 87% employ less than 10 people. In some industries there is a propensity for larger businesses, for instance:

  • 34% of Advertising businesses employ more than 50 people
  • 23% of Cultural Heritage organisations employ more than 50 people

Sources: Creative & Cultural Skills AACS LMI report 2010 and Creative and Cultural Industry Impact and Footprint 2008/09

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Economic profile of the sector

The creative and cultural industries are growing fast. 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 4% per year. Within the Creative & Cultural Skills sectors, the GVA (Gross Value Added) output per employee in 2008/9 was £36,570, with a decline of 7% from 2006/07.

The UK creative and cultural industry contributes nearly £25 billion Gross Value Added to the UK economy each year.

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: Sector Skills Agreement for the Creative and Cultural Industries 2010 and Creative and Cultural Industry Impact and Footprint 2008/09

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Recruitment and skills shortages

24% of businesses that have tried to recruit recently have faced difficulties. Only 12% of music and 16% of visual art organisations have faced recruitment difficulties, compared to 34% of performing art and 29% of literature organisations.

Only 6% of employers state that applicants with a lack of appropriate qualifications are the problem. A lack of experience or a lack of specialist skills were the main reasons for recruitment difficulties noted by employers (42% and 35% respectively). Almost a quarter of employers stated that there have had been few or no applicants.

50% of employers have no minimum expectations in terms of qualifications and 22% expect new recruits to be qualified to at least first degree level. Despite anecdotal evidence suggesting a preference for postgraduate qualifications, only 3% of employers would expect new recruits to have postgraduate qualifications.

Advertising businesses and employers in visual arts had significantly more difficulty finding candidates with the appropriate specialist skills, with 74% and 80% of employers respectively stating this as an issue.

Outsourcing work is a particular impact of experiencing a skills shortage for music and visual arts businesses. While for advertising and cultural heritage organisations, skills shortages can cause delays to the development of new products and services.

Source: Creative & Cultural Skills AACS LMI report 2010

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Future skills needs

  • Skills are generalist and intangible, so are likely to impact future development of the sector rather than economic factors.
  • Digital skills will be essential for increased selling opportunities and advanced business development in all areas of the economy, especially the creative and cultural industries.
  • Higher level skills will be needed as play a vital role in increasing productivity across the economy.
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship capacity of the workforce needs to be developed for the sector to continue to grow throughout the UK.

Specific future skills needs for the creative and cultural industries include:

  • Creative specific leadership and management skills
  • Leadership skills for strategy formulation and success
  • ICT skills for the development of the sector
  • Business skills to ensure productivity and success
  • Negotiation and selling skills for its survival and growth

Source: Creative & Cultural Skills AACS LMI report 2010

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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 the sector. Activities such as 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 work.
  • 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: Sector Skills Agreement for the Creative and Cultural Industries 2010 and Skills Needs Assessment 2007

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