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Creative Industries: Skills and Training

Volume 736: debated on Thursday 20 July 2023

The creative industries sector vision sets out how we will support individuals to get the skills they need to work in the industry. From schools to T-levels, and from apprenticeships to returners, our ambition is to support 1 million more jobs in the creative industries by 2030. Yesterday I co-chaired a roundtable with the Education Secretary to improve flexi-job apprenticeships in the sector. Last week the cultural education plan’s expert advisory panel met for the first time, and procurement for creative skills bootcamps are now live.

I commend my right hon. Friend on the recent creative industries sector vision, which will help to build a pipeline of talent that will underpin the creative industries. Does she agree that it is vital that we invest in building the skills throughout the country, recognising that many of the growth sectors within the industry are outside London?

That is right. We know that creative businesses flourish in geographic clusters, from games in Leamington Spa to fashion in Leeds, and we have already announced that we will invest a further £50 million in at least six new clusters, creating new centres of excellence that will act as magnets for inward investment and talent.

Last night was the summer reception of UK Music, and I was there as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on music, along with the shadow Secretary of State and the Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. If Ministers had been able to come, they would have heard an appeal for more education in the creative sectors in our schools and for more support for our grassroots venues, which are the research and development of the creative industries, particularly the music industry, and which are suffering from a crisis at the moment. What more are the Government going to do to support education at that level so that skills and training in our creative industries can enable them to keep flourishing into the future?

I hope the hon. Gentleman read the sector vision, which included £5 million in additional funding for grassroots music venues—something we discussed at the Select Committee. We, too, think it is important to have those creative subjects in school; that is why art, design and music are already in the national curriculum and remain compulsory in all maintained schools up to the age of 14. But that is not all we are doing. He mentioned music, which is incredibly important. That is why we have our new joint national plan for music education, including £25 million of funding for musical instruments and equipment for schools, and, as I mentioned, we had our first meeting of the cultural education panel, which is looking at how we can ensure we help young people to get more creativity both in and outside school to ensure we have that creative excellence.

The creative industries are a powerhouse of the UK economy, succeeding despite the Government’s best efforts to attack the institutions that underpin them. With the growth of the creative industries, there are now a huge number of job vacancies, yet it remains one of the least diverse sectors in the economy, dominated by white, middle-class people—even more so than banking, law and media. Under this Government, we have seen a huge drop in creative subjects being taken at GCSE. Will the Secretary of State support Labour’s new policy to increase music, drama and the arts in schools and transform our curriculum to meet the needs of the future economy, which desperately needs creative skills, rather than one that is stuck in the past?

The shadow Secretary of State will know that the Prime Minister has identified the creative industries as one of the five sectors of growth that we are supporting as a Government, because they are really important. She mentions GCSEs, but I do not think we should just have music and arts at GCSE. We need them at T-levels, we need apprenticeships and we need them in primary school. She will know, because I have talked about it incessantly, that that is exactly what we are doing and that is what is in our creative sector vision. I will just point out—because I was reminded of it the other day—that a Labour Secretary of State for Education and Employment, David Blunkett, slimmed down the statutory curriculum for creative education and told headteachers to teach fewer creative subjects at school.