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Creative Skills & Futures Network 

Wednesday 15 June 2022 – 14.00 – 15.35 


On Wednesday 15 June, the first Creative Skills & Futures Network meeting took place (formerly the Creative Education and Careers working group) – bringing together Federation members from across industry and education. 

The rebranded members-exclusive network remains a regular forum for representatives with an interest in and passion for creative education, skills, careers, and the future creative workforce. Through facilitating discussions and encouraging insights and connections that drive collaborations between industry and education, in the multiple ways this can and does happen across Research, Innovation and Knowledge Exchange, the network is a key outlet to drive Creative UK’s work and advocacy in this space. 

Following a welcome from the chair Dr Paul Thompson, Vice-Chancellor of The Royal College of Art, Caroline Julian, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Creative UK, updated on four policy and advocacy areas. 

Firstly, highlighting Creative UK’s response to government’s consultation on higher education reform (available here), which outlines the concerns of our members around potential student number controls and minimum eligibility requirements, specifically in relation to our creative talent pipeline. We will continue to advocate and develop asks to government as we lead up to the autumn budget. 

Secondly, Caroline shared that Creative UK have secured funding to support the first phase of our Redesigning Freelancing Project. Steered by our members and Freelance Champions, it aims to develop a freelance framework for both employers and freelancers, with a longer term aim to develop policy recommendations for government in the lead up to the next general election. 

Thirdly, in response to member feedback, we have refined the research brief for our upcoming Access to Finance report, which we aim to publish in the autumn, and we will be setting up a small member’s advisory group for the project. Members were encouraged to express their interest in joining the advisory group. 

Finally – the DCMS tender for the next phase of the Creative Careers Programme is now live. The programme gives the sector an opportunity to build on the materials and outreach with schools that was kickstarted in 2019, to inspire and equip young people, teachers, and careers advisors on everything creative careers. 

Lee Hornsby, Lead Development & Partnerships Manager, introduced our guest speakers. All driving crucial work within creative careers awareness and activity. 

The first guest speaker, Samantha Hornsby, is co-founder of ERIC, an award-winning career app that enables young people to develop an understanding of creative careers, to upskill and to find work in the Creative Industries. Samantha gave an overview of their new research report; What’s stopping young people from pursuing a career in the screen industries?, delivered in collaboration with the BFI. The findings made in the report give up to date context and evidence on the challenges that currently exist and are relevant to other parts of the Creative Industries too. The group were encouraged to engage with the launch of the report and consider the proposed solutions that can inform further action and campaigns to come. 

Simon Pride, Head of Student Recruitment and Marketing, WonderWhat Project Co-Ordinator, and Arts University Bournemouth, introduced a new app they have developed and recently launched, WonderWhat, designed to give schools a resource to help address the decrease in students taking creative subjects at GCSE and A level, and to inform young people about potential creative careers. 

Prompted by the question ‘If you don’t know what career you’re looking for, how are you going to type it into Google?’ WonderWhat is a visually led search engine, designed to appeal to young people by utilising a more innovative and current format. The user can scroll through thousands of images, like a Pinterest style feed. The app learns about the user’s preferences and then presents back information linked into the creative careers that match. 

Rick Gibson, CEO, the British Games Institute (BGI) spoke about the Games Education Summit – an annual conference that gives games educators and developers a forum to discuss the biggest topics in games education. 

Rick noted that 7,000 young people graduate every year from over 200 higher education courses badged with games development. Despite the rapid growth of the game sector, the supply of students and graduates easily outstrips demand, meaning most people who take a games development degree will not get a games job. At the conference, industry spoke of the skill shortages and the lack of high quality up to date skill sets coming out of games courses. Educators found industry often does not work with academia, providing little engagement with their curricula, and too few internships and apprenticeships. 

Central to discussion at the conference, was how the games industry can diversify its workforce. Whilst currently reflecting the national demographics in ethnicity and LGBTQAI+, there remains a lack of diverse in gender, disability, age, and those from disadvantaged communities – over 80% of sector employees have degrees. Most recruiters and educators want more diversity but find themselves limited by the candidates. The BGI believes this shift needs to come from educating young people, educators and parents on the games careers that exist, encouraging more collaboration and signposting – an objective of the BGI’s own Games Careers Week. 

Rick was joined by Stacey Jubb, Head of Learning at BGI, who provided more detail on Games Careers Week – an event involving over 120 games organisations, companies, educational institutions, and third-sector organisations. Students from secondary schools, alternative providers, and specialist schools, can attend over the week – free of charge. Attendees can speak to industry employers, to join workshops with learning facilitators, and talks exploring how to pursue this career path. This is followed by time at the National Video Game Arcade, which houses 80 playable video game machines, as well as additional information on the many games careers that exist. 

Following our guest speaker’s contributions, the network meeting concluded with breakout discussions exploring three themes: 

  • Are there other new industry-led resources, programmes, and schemes out there to raise awareness and understanding of creative careers that we should be spotlighting and sharing with our networks? Is any of this being adapted to take into account economic trends, including current skills shortages and pressures on cost of living? 
  • What changes in recruitment and student intake trends are you noticing? 
  • One third of the creative workforce are self-employed. Alongside raising awareness of the creative industries and creative careers, what more can we be doing in preparing the next generation of creatives to navigate this landscape effectively; knowing what to expect and what other skills they need to develop alongside their creative practices? What are you doing within your areas to address this? 

Representative’s input was varied, highlighting additional key areas of focus across campaigning and policy, the importance of ongoing collaboration between education, industry, and national and regional partnerships. Creative UK will continue to push on across all fronts, alongside providing a central outlet for further discussion and action. 


The Creative Skills & Futures Network aims to convene 3-4 times throughout the year. If you work within a Federation member organisation and wish to join the network, please contact Lee Hornsby at