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Young People: Creative Industries

Volume 729: debated on Thursday 14 July 2011

Question

Asked By

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to encourage young people to pursue careers in the creative industries.

My Lords, the Government support young people wishing to enter the creative industries at all levels through apprenticeships, careers advice, degree courses and business start-up schemes. We are expanding apprenticeships, including those in the creative industries, and the National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural Skills has been successful in increasing career opportunities for young people.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Does she acknowledge the significant contribution that the creative industries make to our economy, with over 1.3 million jobs in the sector? Does she agree with the recent CBI report that, despite the progress that has already been made, there is a need for many more flexible apprenticeships in this sector? What are the Government doing to address the fact that informal social networks and unpaid internships are helping children from affluent backgrounds to gain jobs in the sector at the expense of those less well connected?

I thank the noble Baroness for her question. I share her view of the importance of the creative and cultural industries. As she has pointed out, the exports alone are worth £17 billion a year and many jobs are created. When I sat down and started working out exactly what the answers were on this Question, I was amazed at just how much is going on. The Government are committed to expanding apprenticeships in this sector, which often relies on self-employed and contract work. We are providing flexibility in the delivery of apprenticeships to allow for those legitimate variations in working practice. We have to bear in mind what we are taking on, from the poet in the attic to the blockbuster moviemakers. It is a very varied group of people.

On the noble Baroness’s third question, we should ensure that all young people can get work experience or jobs based on merit to ensure the best possible talent base for the country. We have already asked employers to improve access to internships, and the Creative Industries Council will look at improving fair access and providing clearer entry and progression routes to the sector.

My Lords, if the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, had used the term “arts” instead of “creative industries” in the Question to address what would really have been the same concern, will the Minister confirm that it would likely have been answered by the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, on behalf of quite another department? Can the Minister elaborate on what is likely to be the future balance of involvement and the nature of the dialogue between the culture, education and business departments regarding encouraging the arts and young people into the arts?

I think that the noble Earl answers his question to me very well himself. We should all be working together and we will endeavour to do so.

My Lords, I declare an interest as chairman of the William Morris Craft Fellowship. What are the Government doing to encourage young people to enter the traditional crafts?

My noble friend talks of crafts. There are so many words to describe the subject of this Question, but the word “crafts” springs to mind. My father was himself a craftsman. What are we doing? We are making over 200 new apprenticeship schemes available and we are speaking with schools to ensure that our careers advice encourages all these craft skills for children who have those wonderful talents but maybe feel at this stage that this will not get them a job. We have to ensure that as we in this country go forward, all our children’s talents get used.

My Lords, the creative industries need creative people and creativity needs to be nurtured. The new EBacc contains no creative element at all, and it appears to be stopping young people from pursuing subjects such as art, design and computer science. Our thriving creative industries are already seeing a skills shortage. Will the Minister explain why the Government continue to refuse to revise their position on the EBacc? If they do not, the skills shortage will only get worse.

I am happy to answer this question. We are slimming down the curriculum in ways that enable us to spread the accessible required needs for just the things that my noble friend is talking about.

Would young people not be better assisted in pursuing careers in the creative industries if the Government were to abandon their policy of disadvantaging teaching and research in the humanities in their funding of universities?

Does the Minister realise that the creative industries were one of the most rapidly growing sectors throughout the north-east of England and that all five of the universities there have had a very fine record and are producing some first-class graduates? Is it not a tragedy that the whole of this sector is severely cutting back in employment because of the Government’s economic strategy?

My Lords, will the noble Baroness provide us with some examples of what, in her view, are non-creative industries?

Well, the right reverend Prelate himself represents a particular industry, which I support, although there are some who would say maybe not.

While associating myself entirely with the important question asked a moment ago by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester, perhaps I may say that I have had a large number of children, some of whom are in what I believe is known as the creative industries, and it never occurred to me to ask the Government for advice on what career they should pursue. Since when has it been the Government’s job to do that?

I think that it is now being recognised that the skills and talents that will take this country forward are very broad. We are already extremely successful in the creative industries and, as the noble Baroness who asked the Question emphasised, we really should be encouraging them. This Government are determined to do so.

My Lords, will the Government make maximum use of the Cultural Olympiad and the festival of culture next year as a lever to gain the maximum benefit for our youngsters in the future? Quite a lot of money—about £97 million, as I understand it, much of it private, as is correct—is already there. Will she assure the House that we are getting the maximum leverage from that for our youngsters?