Creative and Cultural Skills chair Tony Hall has warned that professions including the performing arts are being swamped by ill-informed and underqualified graduates, many of whom cannot secure jobs in their chosen field.
A survey recently commissioned by Creative and Cultural Skills – the new Sector Skills Council for the arts, heritage, advertising and design industries – reveals that while nearly a third of Britons aspire to enter the creative industries, only 11% achieve these career ambitions.
Hall, who is also chief executive of the Royal Opera House, said: “Each year we have an oversupply of graduates trying to get into the creative industries. The creative industries are fiercely competitive, so employers can afford to be highly selective when recruiting. Who you know might help you to secure an interview, but unless you have the right mix of skills, that’s about as far as you’ll get.
“The problem is it’s very difficult for young people to know where to get these skills. There are so many courses around that it can be confusing, and many students don’t know which ones are preferred by employers. This means that all too often students opt for courses that, frankly, are worthless in the marketplace.”
Over 2,000 people were questioned as part of the survey. It revealed that while around a third of respondents had aspired to a profession such as actor, dancer, singer or musician, of that minority, some 39% later changed their minds while 25% gave up on the ambition because they believed it was unrealistic.
CC Skills was officially launched earlier this year, in an attempt to fill the void left since Metier lost its status as the National Training Organisation for the performing arts in 2002. Its board includes leading figures from the theatre sector such as Catie Callender, managing director of UK theatres for Clear Channel Entertainment, and Christine Payne, Equity’s assistant general secretary, theatre and variety.
One of its first projects is to develop its website – www.ccskills.org.uk – into a source of information for those interested in working in the creative industries, listing the types of jobs available and the skills and training necessary to get them.
* Musical theatre training supplement, pages 21-28 of the newspaper