New Creative Workforce for the Future

By Ben Carey on 17 January, 2020

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is hoping a new initiative will give more young people in the region the opportunity to work in creative industries.

Creative Workforce for the Future will support SMEs to develop a more inclusive workforce in the region’s creative industries, aiming to draw on the talent available from under-represented groups, in particular, people from black, Asian and minority ethnic or disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles said, “Our world-renowned creative and cultural sector is a crucial part of the West of England’s economy. Creative industries have been one of the fastest growing sectors across the UK for the past decade and this is reflected in the West of England, with 27% growth in digital and creative employment between 2015 and 2017.

“I want to ensure that everyone, regardless of background, has an opportunity to have a career in the creative industries. Bristol is one of the BBC’s three key sites, along with London and Manchester and the BBC Natural History Unit is soon to be expanded as a core part of the region’s production activity. It is also the home of Channel 4’s new Creative Hub. These businesses need skilled employees now and this demand is expected to increase.”

Creative Workforce for the Future will work with the world-class cluster of creative small and medium-sized businesses concentrated in Bristol and Bath, reaching out to talent across the region.

Bridging the gap from education to work, participants will undertake placements at different creative and cultural hubs to develop their experience, CV, portfolio and industry contacts. They will also gain access to a Talent Network offering opportunity, industry expertise and advice.

The tailored support will continue for an additional 12 months to help them develop further experience through employment, contract and freelance work.

The Creative Workforce for the Future programme will be delivered by WECA’s partners in the Network for Creative Enterprise, led by the University of the West of England and Watershed, with hubs including The Guild Bath.

They will work with business networks in the region including Bristol Media, the Royal Television Society, Creative Bath, TechSpark, the West of England Design Forum and the Channel 4 Creative Hub which launched in Bristol in January.

Channel 4’s Managing Director Nations and Regions, Sinead Rocks, said: “The creative industries need to be more representative of the UK as it is today and so we’re delighted that Creative Workforce for the Future will be nurturing and developing fresh, untapped talent with a particular focus on young people from under-represented groups in really tangible ways.”

Victoria Tillotson, Talent Development lead at Watershed, added, “It can be incredibly difficult for young people to get a foot in the door of the creative industries. Creative Workforce for the Future tackles this issue head on, bridging the gap between underrepresented young people and creative companies who are excited to embrace new voices within their teams. Watershed is delighted to be a part of this vital programme. We will work with the programme’s cultural hubs to create a powerful Talent Network that will begin to change Bristol and Bath’s creative industries, promising a brighter future for everyone.”

Creative Workforce for the Future is identified in the West of England Employment and Skills Plan, developed by WECA in partnership with businesses and skills providers, in line with the region’s Local Industrial Strategy. It is supported by investment from the West of England Combined Authority and the European Social Fund and is being delivered as part of the Bristol + Bath Creative R+D programme.

Creative SMEs which are keen to find out more about Creative Workforce for the Future and express an interest in being part of the project should visit: https://bristolbathcreative.org/take-part/creative-workforce.

Photograph courtesy of UWE Bristol.