Do you have the core skills needed for a career in the creative industries?

Understanding the creative industries

Recently I was asked by the Creative Industries Council Skills Group to contribute a response to its Big Questions. These questions are intended to ensure that the creative industries in the UK stay competitive by developing talent and skills within the workforce. They were highlighted by the CBI’s Skills for the Creative Industries briefing last month on the need to invest in skills for the creative industries to enable them to keep growing and contributing to the economy. The report says: “The creative sector has huge growth potential. By 2013, the sector is expected to employ 1.3 million people, potentially greater than financial services.”

In a bid to answer these questions, I did some research and found that there was not any overall agreement on what the creative industries are. Creative Capital says it interprets the term “as a broad set of disciplines, including the arts, publishing, film, design, architecture, advertising, computer games, TV and radio”.

Creative & Cultural Skills and Skillset divide them up into 22 diverse areas with three things in common:

• Focus on clients, customers, audiences and participants

• Ability to communicate

• Central importance of creativity for business success

These are the skills that the creative industries need to keep strong and fresh and they are instrumental to competitiveness in the current climate. You need to work to develop your technical and specialist skills in your creative area while also being aware that other skills are vital to successfully finding and keeping work.

Develop core competitive skills

The CBI’s report highlights soft employability skills, which are also referred to as transferable skills. Employability skills as defined by the CBI are: self-management, team-working, business and customer awareness, problem solving, communication and literacy, application of numeracy and application of IT.

The crucial point here is that there are key attitudes necessary to compliment these skills, and they are a positive attitude and an entrepreneurial outlook. These attitudes will enable you to be open to possibilities and challenges while also as being able to think innovatively.

Articulate and apply skills

Knowing the skills that you need to build on and develop is one thing, but how do you let people know that you have them? This comes down to how you apply your skills. I will let our new president of University of the Arts London Stdent’s Union (SUARTS), Ben Westhead, have the final word.

Ben particularly mentions self motivation and networking as key opportunities to get out there with your portfolio of work and skills. He says: “A quality course should have taught new graduates to be self-motivated and instilled in them a passion for their subject that will mean they have the skills to continue to advance their work well beyond the point of graduation.”

He also highlights something that is integral to the creative industries – networking. This does not need to be a daunting prospect, as he comments: “I believe, in a currently difficult financial and creative climate, the ‘who you know’ must become your network of peers – a group who can collaborate and work together finding strength and success, not in the old dog-eat-dog attitude, but together in unity.”

Hannah Clements is student development officer, in the Student Enterprise and Employability service (SEE) at the University of the Arts London.

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