Skip to main content

Creative Industries: Skills Shortage

Volume 790: debated on Wednesday 2 May 2018


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how their Creative Industries Sector Deal, announced on 28 March, will address the skills shortages in those industries.

My Lords, the creative industries sector deal committed over £150 million of government and industry funding to unlock growth in the UK’s world-leading creative businesses and address the current and future skills needs of the creative industries. As part of this, government will fund the skills package, featuring an industry-led creative careers programme—reaching 2,000 schools and 600,000 pupils—and support for apprenticeship standards. Industry will expand its voluntary skills investment fund and work with governments to ensure high-quality work placements for students. Additionally, the BFI is rolling out its £20 million future film skills programme to tackle skills shortages in the film industry.

I thank the Minister both for his response and for the Government’s recognition in the sector deal of the importance of the creative industries. The Minister clearly understands that skills are the lifeblood of any industry. Does he agree that the demise of the teaching and take-up of creative subjects in schools and further education is very worrying? Will he encourage his colleagues in the Department for Education to promote STEAM, not STEM, and explain to them that the creative industries are powered by creative subjects? What we need is that old request: joined-up government.

My Lords, no one is suggesting that STEM subjects are the only ones that matter. Indeed, I completely take the noble Baroness’s point that the arts are very important, especially for the creative industries. We expect a broad and balanced curriculum to be provided for schools. I am informed by the Department for Education that there is no evidence that a greater emphasis on STEM subjects has had a direct impact on the take-up of the arts in schools. Between 2010 and 2017, the proportion of pupils in state-funded schools taking at least one arts subject remained broadly stable and the percentage of time spent by secondary school teachers on teaching music, art, design and drama has also not changed significantly. However—to give the noble Baroness some comfort—the Secretary of State recently met the Secretary of State for Education to discuss this, and another junior Minister in my department met another junior Minister in the Department for Education on 27 April. Joined-up government is going on, and we are well aware of the sector’s views on this subject.

My Lords, I am delighted to hear the support for the creative industries and the contribution they make to growth in the UK. The other considerable achievement of the creative industries is in social mobility. I cannot think of any greater engine for social mobility than them. The key to that is some of the world-leading establishments, such as RADA, the BRIT School in Croydon and the National Film and Television School. I would welcome hearing from the Minister that the Government recognise the importance of those and other institutions in feeding the creative industries and avoiding the skills shortage that may loom in 20 years’ time.

It is important to make the point that the creative industries are a tremendous success story. We are not talking about a rescue package, if you like, in the sector deal. They are growing at twice the rate of the rest of the economy. As far as my noble friend’s points are concerned, of course we understand, as I said, the importance of the arts. That is why, for example, the Department for Education announced £96 million of funding to give talented pupils the opportunity to attend top music, drama and dance schools. That takes government funding for music and creative arts programmes to almost £500 million. In fact, it is the second-highest amount of funding for a sector by the Department for Education after PE.

My Lords, in my capacity as champion of outreach at Imperial College, I go to a phenomenal number of schools around England and sometimes to Wales. What I find is that a huge number of students are not able to do, for example, an arts A-level with a science A-level because there is insufficient money in the system for schools to provide that, yet that is what gives them a compass in science to see how valuable it is in practice in wider society. Could the Minister recommend that to the department—it seems an important issue—to see whether we could not fund it rather better in future?

My Lords, this is the third question that should be given to the Department for Education, but I completely understand the noble Lord’s point. What I have said is that we do not think that there should be a limited amount for, for example, STEM subjects, important though they are. We understand the basis of a broad-based curriculum. As I indicated, in DCMS we are talking to Department for Education Ministers. We represent the views of our sector, which is very vociferous on these subjects. We understand them and are taking a lot of effort to do so, and are relaying them to the Department for Education.

My Lords, 47% of the workforce in the creative industries is self-employed, compared with 15% of the workforce as a whole. The creative sector deal declares that it wants to protect access to global talent. Could the Minister tell the House whether the Government plan to consult the industry on the introduction of a freelance visa to ensure that the most talented creatives can work in this country?

We are only too well aware of the importance of foreign talent, who sometimes come to this country for relatively limited periods of time to work in the creative industries. The noble Viscount is absolutely right that a lot of the jobs in the creative industries are for a limited period. We are working with the Migration Advisory Committee to look at issues surrounding immigration. Again, as part of the joined-up government we referred to, we are talking to the Home Office to make sure the sector’s requirements are known.

My Lords, there is much to welcome in the sector deal, but meeting the training skills for the anticipated 600,000 extra jobs means that the apprenticeship levy scheme must be fit for purpose for the creative industries. Is the Minister aware that the Skills Minister has already acknowledged that the scheme is causing particular concerns and problems within the sector, which wants greater flexibility? The sector deal promises simply to monitor the scheme. Your Lordships’ Communications Committee has asked for a comprehensive review. Will the Minister assure your Lordships’ House that we will get that comprehensive review?

I believe that the Department for Education is looking at how the apprenticeship levy is working and bedding down. We understand that there are particular issues for the creative industries. That is why the sector deal includes support to help quickly develop 20 new apprenticeship standards. We will work with the Institute for Apprenticeships to prioritise those standards for the creative industries. I can confirm that, as part of the sector deal, an employer representative from the creative industries will sit on the Department for Education’s apprenticeship stakeholder board. I cannot commit the Department for Education, but it is certainly looking at the particular problems that pertain to the creative industries.