STRAND 9: SKILLS Study of the digital and creative industries in the North West: Skills needs
INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................... 2
Definitions .............................................................................................................................................. 3 Structure of report ................................................................................................................................. 3
THE DCI SECTOR: SIZE AND CHARACTERISTICS ........................................................... 4
2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5
National Strategic Skills Audit and supporting skills assessments ................................................ 4 Cross-sector skills needs ..................................................................................................................... 6 The creative media sub-sector ............................................................................................................. 6 The digital sub-sector ........................................................................................................................... 8 The cultural sub-sector ......................................................................................................................... 9
DCI SECTOR CHALLENGES ............................................................................................. 11
3.1 3.2 3.3
Prevalence of small companies .........................................................................................................11 Quality and employability of graduates ............................................................................................12 Demographic mix of workforce ..........................................................................................................13
SCHEMES AND INITIATIVES............................................................................................. 14
4.1 4.2 4.3
MediaCityUK .........................................................................................................................................14 Other schemes .....................................................................................................................................18 Skills initiatives ....................................................................................................................................18
SUMMARY .......................................................................................................................... 22
BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................................................................................................. 23
Study of the digital and creative industries in the North West: Skills needs BOP Consulting 2010 (www.bop.co.uk)
INTRODUCTION The digital and internet revolutions of the last decade are transforming many parts of the economy. Nowhere is this more true than in the creative industries. Technological change is causing the creative and digital industries to converge in many respects, a process that has led the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) to treat them as a single priority sector for the North West. A number of sub-regions have followed suit, including Lancashire and Cumbria. The decision by the BBC to move five of its departments, including Radio 5 Live and Future Media and Technology, to Salford’s new MediaCityUK development provides the North West with a huge opportunity to position itself as Britain’s most important location for the digital and creative industries outside London. Indeed, Skillset’s research suggests this is already starting to happen. Taking full advantage of this (and other) opportunities will require a strong skills base. However, the rapid changes in technology in the digital and creative industries make this a challenging prospect. These industries are being transformed in the digital age; it is not simply a question of learning new technical skills but of developing new business models, adapting management styles and identifying new sources of creative leadership. Perhaps paradoxically, new technology is thus creating a demand for hybrid skills: people with a mix of technical, creative, business and interpersonal skills, able to navigate their way through their industries’ current turbulence. Producing such rounded, flexible people is far from easy. The recently-published National Strategic Skills Audit suggests that the economic potential of the digital and creative industries (DCI) sector is being held back by skills deficiencies. Further and higher education seem to be struggling to keep up with the pace of change and are in any case finding themselves under pressure from the government spending squeeze. At the same time, the dominance of micro-enterprises and freelancers in the creative industries in particular make it difficult for businesses to keep upgrading the skills of their staff. The role of public-sector bodies such as Northwest Vision and Media (NWVM) therefore becomes unusually important in maintaining the competitiveness of the sector. Such bodies can offer more industry-focused training than the education sector, and also have the institutional resources that micro-businesses lack. To fulfil this role, though, the public sector needs to have a clear understanding of current and future trends in skills and training in the region and of the factors which affect them. Currently, information on the DCI sector’s skills requirements in the North West (NW) is collected in a number of documents. While these documents cover their specific subject areas thoroughly, there is a need to bring the key facts together in one place. This will allow NWDA and its partners to present the main issues concerning the skills requirements of the region’s DCI sector more effectively. The aim of this report therefore is to provide an overview of the DCI sector skills requirements of the North West. As most of the information is reported in existing materials, this research is primarily a literature review. However, in addition to summarising past evidence, we also provide a narrative around the overarching themes, and examine how these themes will play a part in the future development of the sector. We begin by considering the vexed issue of sector definitions.
Study of the digital and creative industries in the North West: Skills needs BOP Consulting 2010 (www.bop.co.uk)
1.1 Definitions Defining the scope and extent of the creative industries is a perennial challenge for work of this kind. Adding the digital industries into the mix further complicates matters. We have been asked by NWDA to use a bespoke definition of the DCI sector adapted to the requirements of this project (included as Appendix 1). This definition is the one used throughout the nine strands of the larger project, of which this report is one part. Because there is no standard definition of the sector, the NWDA’s list of industries does not necessarily ‘map’ onto those used by other organisations. As a result, this report draws on a number of sources which overlap with the DCI sector as defined by NWDA. In particular, we have considered the ‘footprints’ of the three main sector skills councils which cover these areas. The industries for which the three are responsible are: Skillset: TV, film, radio, interactive media, animation, computer games, facilities, photo imaging and publishing. e-skills: ICT and telecoms Creative & Cultural Skills (CCS): advertising; performing, literary and visual arts; music; design; craft and cultural heritage.
1.2 Structure of report The report begins by considering skills-related research into the DCI sector by the National Strategic Skills Audit and the three sector skills councils. It then picks out some of the themes that cut across all of these, and explores them in more depth. Next the report turns to some of the schemes and initiatives that are under way to increase or improve the level of skills in the region. The MediaCityUK development is expected to have such a significant effect on skills demand that it warrants discussion in its own right, but other initiatives are also examined. Finally, there is a brief summary to round off the analysis.
Study of the digital and creative industries in the North West: Skills needs BOP Consulting 2010 (www.bop.co.uk)
THE DCI SECTOR: SIZE AND CHARACTERISTICS This chapter considers the findings of the National Strategic Skills Audit and its supporting skills assessments and reviews data for the industries covered by the three sector skills councils. We start off by reviewing the size and make-up of the DCI sector as a whole, drawing on NWDA research, before looking at each sub-sector, to get a sense of the regional demand for particular types of skills. We then briefly consider the main factors that are thought likely to affect future demand, before turning to the challenges that face the region in meeting those needs – in other words, challenges with the supply of skills. Although each sub-sector has its particular quirks, there are commonalities across the three, which are explored further in chapter 3.
The DCI sector Estimates of the size of the DCI sector in the North West vary, due largely to definitional issues (discussed in section 1.1). Figures from NWDA’s Research and Intelligence Unit1, though, suggest that the sector is a sizeable one, with 21,515 workplaces in the North West employing 139,870 people. As might perhaps be expected, the largest concentrations of workers are found in Greater Manchester (44%), with relatively few in the more northern parts of the NWDA region: just 4% work in Cumbria, for instance. In 2006 the digital and creative sector generated £8.5bn (7.3%) of the North West’s GVA and accounted for 8.3% of all of England’s GVA within the digital and creative sector – significant shares2. Despite this, though, most firms are very small – 91% of them employ ten people or fewer.
2.1 National Strategic Skills Audit and supporting skills assessments The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has just published the first of what will be an annual Skills Audit for England3. The Audit draws on a range of sources, including assessments prepared by the sector skills councils.
National Strategic Skills Audit The report found that skills shortages were generally rare – only 5% of English businesses suffered from them. The North West was less affected than the rest of England, despite its relatively low skills levels. However, skills gaps – where workers do not have the full range of skills to fulfil all the requirements of their posts – are more common: 20% of firms are affected by these. Difficulties with literacy and numeracy were a particular problem in the North West. 1
Knight, Kavanagh & Page/NWDA Research and Intelligence Unit (2007) Northwest Regional Overview: The Digital and Creative Sector: Unit Count Regional and Sub Regional Overview 2 Ibid. 3 UKCES (2010) Skills for Jobs: Today and Tomorrow. The National Strategic Skills Audit for England 2010
UKCES recognised that the government has identified the digital economy as one of six key emerging sectors with the potential to provide economic growth. It saw the digital industries as comprising two parts, technology and content, and concluded that ‘within the existing technology workforce, skills gaps affect over three-quarters of technology professionals and relate to IT programme management, supplier management and service management at senior levels. In terms of content skills the gaps are the ability to produce multi-platform content; the monetisation of content; broadcast engineering skills and visualisation’ (p27). UKCES also picked out the creative sector as one of a further four sectors which it felt had potential for growth. It noted that, although the creative sector has a surplus of potential entrants from which to choose, there were skills gaps here too ‘especially around production skills, intellectual property knowledge, commercial acumen, broadcast engineering, visual effects skills and managerial leadership’ (p28). Two of the strategic skills assessments produced by the sector skills councils and drawn on for the Audit are of particular relevance to this report. They made a number of points in addition to those described above.
Strategic Skills Assessment for the Creative Industries The assessment4 observed that ‘perhaps the greatest single movement in [the creative industries] skills requirement is due to advances in digital technology’ (p25). Their transformative effects extend beyond technical skills into management, leadership and the development of new business models. Multi-skilling is now a necessity, yet there is a shortage of new entrants ‘equipped with ’T’skills’ – highly specialised in one core field, but with broad skills and knowledge to utilise their specialism across teams and platforms’ (p26). The assessment also observes that what it calls the ‘X Factor’ generation may be fascinated by the creative sector but ‘have little knowledge about working in the industry and less about how to enter’ (p23), and were therefore unlikely to fill these emerging skills gaps.
Strategic Skills Assessment for the Digital Economy The digital economy assessment5 echoes some of the concerns of the creative industries one. Again, there is an emphasis on the growing importance of hybrid skills, including the ability to produce and monetise content across multiple platforms. This demand is having some unexpected effects. For all the talk of ‘digital natives’, the assessment notes that the proportion of people aged 16-29 in technology occupations has fallen from 33% in 2001 to 22% in 2009. It suggests this is because ‘the need for hybrid technical/business capability means the sector often favours workers with a level of business experience in other occupations over young recruits from the education system’ (p15).
Skillset/Creative & Cultural Skills (2010) Strategic Skills Assessment for the Creative Industries e-skills UK/Skillset/Creative & Cultural Skills (2010) Strategic Skills Assessment for the Digital Economy
2.2 Cross-sector skills needs The North West Higher Level Skills Pathfinder has produced much more detailed summaries of skills needs in the region. The cross-sector needs it identified for the creative and digital sector are set out in figure 1 below: Figure 1: Cross-sector skills needs in the creative and digital sector
This list supports the findings of the National Strategic Skills Audit, drawing attention to the importance of multi-skilling, management skills, the need to adapt to multi-platform and converging technologies and the need for knowledge of intellectual property legislation. We now turn to the individual sub-sectors.
2.3 The creative media sub-sector Skillset is the sector skills council responsible for almost all of the creative media industries.
Size and characteristics of sub-sector The most recent Employment Survey carried out by Skillset took place in 2009. It found that, while employment numbers nationally had declined since its last survey in 2006, the numbers in the North West had grown, and the regionâ€™s share of national employment had increased from 6 per cent to 10 per cent. This seemed to be at the expense of West Study of the digital and creative industries in the North West: Skills needs BOP Consulting 2010 (www.bop.co.uk)
London, an effect that Skillset attributed to the move of part of the BBC’s workforce from White City to Salford (though this move is far from complete). Skillset suggested that 12,400 people were employed full-time in the North West in its sector, with a further 4,650 people working as freelancers (these figures exclude cinema exhibition). Broadcast radio was the largest employer of full-time staff with 3,250, followed by independent TV production and computer games with a total of 2,150 each. The North West had the second largest number of sub-sector jobs by region behind London, having overtaken the South East since 2006.
Skills gaps There have been a number of attempts to assess skills provision in the sub-sector. According to a 2007 mapping study6 of skills needs in the North West carried out for Skillset North (p7):
27% of employers report difficulties in obtaining some kind of skill
Only 54% of employees receive training in the North West compared with 64% in the UK. Particular areas of weakness were:
Only 1% of employees recruit young people from FE colleges (compared with 11% across the UK) – in other words, new entrants are expected to have high-level skills
38% received ‘in-house training by an external contractor’ (vs 56% in the UK)
53% received training in the form of an ‘external course or seminar’ (vs 75% in the UK)
Only 21% of employers give training to freelancers compared with 26% nationally.
Priorities for future BOP Consulting’s research for Skillset concluded there were four skills priorities for employers in the region (p1):
Addressing gaps in training course content in two ‘high level’ skills areas (i) senior business, finance and management and leadership skills; and (ii) cross platform and/or ‘convergent’ production skills
Making specialist, post-entry level training more locally available and affordable to improve the skills of the existing workforce
Developing and improving current HE-industry links to improve the calibre of new entrants
Implementing a range of initiatives to help industry to identify, retain and attract more of the best talent
BOP Consulting (2007a) Mapping Supply and Demand for Skills in the Audio-Visual Industries in the North of England
2.4 The digital sub-sector The digital sub-sector falls under the purview of the e-skills UK sector skills council.
Size and characteristics of sub-sector Reports on ICT and telecoms specifically for the North West region are thin on the ground. One exception is the How Do report, The digital industry7, which looked at internet consultancy, computer aided design services, and internet web design and development (as defined by Experian, who provided the data for the How Do report). However, it is largely confined to statistical analysis, and has little to say about skills issues. Its figures suggested that there were 1,210 digital firms in the North West, of which the large majority were internet web design firms. Most firms were small – 92% of the region’s web design firms have ten or fewer employees. The North West had the third largest concentration nationally, behind London and the South East (which counted as a single region in this research) and the South West. The North West Higher Level Skills Partnership8 quotes undated figures suggesting that the IT industry employed 58,836 people in the region, with a further 58,000 IT professionals working in other industries. Representatives of the digital sector in the North West suggested that the trends affecting the region’s firms are broadly the same as those nationally. We have therefore also looked at national reports. The e-skills report Technology Counts9 suggests that there are over 100,000 businesses nationally. Of these, 92% are ICT firms, 8% are telecoms ones. Some of these firms are very large – 328 companies account for half of all employment in the sub-sector – but there is a high proportion of very small businesses, partly due to the popularity of selfemployment. Over half (55%) of ICT and telecoms professionals have level 4 qualifications or above (degree level or better). These professions remain male-dominated: only 18% of staff are women. The age profile of staff is becoming older too. One slightly more encouraging trend revealed by the report was that 32% of IT and telecoms professionals in the North West had received training in the last year, compared with a national average of 25%.
Drivers of future demand The trends that were thought to be increasingly important for the sub-sector were grouped into three themes in the report:
Business/economic: including globalisation, and the pressure for constant innovation
How Do/Business Link Northwest (2009) North West Creative and Media Industries PLC 2009: The Digital Industry North West Higher Level Skills Pathfinder (undated) Creative and Digital Sector – The Regional Context 9 E-skills UK (2008) Technology Counts England: It & Telecoms Insights 2008 8
Technology factors: increased standardisation of IT, convergence of platforms
Social factors: ‘green IT’, social computing, user-generated content
Trends in demand for skills The report noted that ‘both software development and many traditional ‘entry level’ jobs are increasingly located offshore, whilst work in the UK is increasingly focused on the application of technology to improve business performance’ (p8). Partly as a result of this trend, ‘IT and telecoms professionals are increasingly expected to be multi-skilled, with sophisticated business and interpersonal skills as well as technological competence’ (p8).
Trends in supply of skills The implication of this for skills is that continual technical up-skilling is required to adjust to the growth in demand for higher skilled jobs and to rapidly changing technology. One worrying trend, though, is the decline in the number of young people studying computing. HEIs remain an important source of talent for the sector, yet student applications to various types of computing degree have fallen by as much as 50% in five years (p11). The A-level in Computing and the GCSE in ICT have also seen significant falls in numbers. Furthermore, just 15% of applicants for computing degrees and 10% of those taking the ICT GCSE are female.
2.5 The cultural sub-sector Creative & Cultural Skills (CCS) covers a wide range of creative activities. It should be noted that only a minority of them, principally advertising and design, are included in the NWDA’s definition of the DCI sector being used in this project.
Size and characteristics of sub-sector Creative & Cultural Skills (CCS) estimated that its industries in its remit employed 59,580 people in the region in 200610. Design was the largest sub-sector, accounting for 34% of jobs, followed by performing arts (16%) and music (14%). In all, 34% of workers were selfemployed, though this share varied widely from industry to industry: 69% of the performing arts workforce were self-employed, compared with less than 1% in cultural heritage. Just over a quarter of staff (26%) worked part-time. A sizeable majority of workers are male (62%), though again this varies widely, from 73% in design to 37% in cultural heritage (the latter is the only industry in which women were in the majority in the NW). Over half the workforce is over 40 years of age (56%), with around 15% being under 25. In all, 95% of workers are white. Qualification levels are high, with 43% having level 4 qualifications or higher. These figures are generally in line with those seen in England as whole. Of the more notable differences, self-employment was higher in England (at 42%) than in the North West, while the national workforce was also a little more diverse – in England only 92% of creative and cultural workers were white. 10
Creative & Cultural Skills (2008/09) Creative Choices: North West Impact and Footprint
The skills issues facing the sub-sector seem to be broadly similar to those found in Skillsetโs domain (see section 2.1).
Drivers of future demand: According to the Creative & Cultural Skills Creative Blueprint11, there are a number of key drivers of demand. These are:
Globalisation: increasing competition from the likes of China and India and the rise of the knowledge economy
Changing demographics: ageing population, greater ethnic diversity, a decline in the number of young people entering the labour market
Technological change: convergence of media, the rise of user-generated content
Environmental change: consumer behaviour is being increasingly affected by concerns about climate change
Government policy: across a wide range of areas, from intellectual property to employment legislation
Changing ways of working: more flexible working, more freelancing
Skills gaps The Blueprint also asked businesses about skills gaps in their companies. In all, 26% of employers perceived some kind of skills gap, Sets of skills that were seen as being particularly important for businesses in the sector included management, leadership, information and digital technology, and negotiation and selling. A number of challenges facing firms were also identified (p9). These were:
ยง ยง ยง ยง ยง
Gaps in work-based specialist and technical skills provision Need for higher-level skills Confusion caused by the high number of education and training courses Need to diversify the workforce Need for a greater commitment to training by businesses
Creative & Cultural Skills (2009) Creative Blueprint North West: A regional plan for the creative and cultural industries
DCI SECTOR CHALLENGES The review of the three sub-sectors that make up the digital and creative sector and the National Strategic Skills Audit in the previous section has shown that there are a number of inter-related issues affecting skills levels across the sector. Together, they have resulted in mismatches between employers and employees for a number of years. Though certain initiatives have been implemented to address them (described later in chapter 4), many of these have not been running long enough to make a significant impact yet. Consequently, certain structural weaknesses still characterise the North West’s DCI labour market. We have grouped these weaknesses together, to discuss the issues they raise in more detail. They are:
The prevalence of small companies. This in turn implies:
§ § § § § §
Little specialisation Many freelancers Fewer training opportunities A ‘brain drain’ – the migration of skilled DCI workers to London and the South East
Quality and employability of ‘creative’ graduates is hard to determine Demographic mix of DCI employees doesn’t fully reflect potential workforce
3.1 Prevalence of small companies Small companies make up the overwhelming majority of the DCI sector in the NW: 91% of companies have ten or fewer employees according to Donaghey (2009), figures that are echoed in the sector skills councils’ studies. These proportions are in line with national trends. The predominance of small companies has the following effects:
Little specialisation: Small companies chasing fewer and smaller contracts means that being a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ has become a requirement for many companies’ survival. These companies cannot then dedicate time and resources to specialising in certain areas. The audio-visual industries at the heart of the DCI sector, for instance, have had to adapt to a smaller regional market over the last 15 years, caused in large part by the loss of commissioning power to London as result of changes at ITV and the BBC (though MediaCityUK, of course, may change this). This in turn has meant that there are fewer and smaller contracts commissioned in the North West. Consequently, even when larger contracts are occasionally commissioned, the specialised skills required to complete those contracts are usually lacking in the North West, and need to be imported from London or the South East.
A high proportion of freelancers: Fewer and smaller contracts do not provide the same stability and certainty to individuals that long-running ones do. In many of the DCI sub-sectors, therefore, freelancing has become increasingly important, as it provides the flexibility that businesses require to meet the demands of small-scale, intermittent project-based work. It is a characteristic of freelancers that most of their new work is sourced informally. The Skillset Workforce Survey of 2005 (quoted in BOP, 2007a) indicates that only 7% of freelancers find their work through formal channels. Most work is sourced via previous experience (36%), word-of-mouth (16%) or friends (7%). This in turn has implications for the diversity of the workforce – it is hard for newcomers without contacts to break into the sector.
Fewer CPD and apprenticeship opportunities: Most small companies do not have the scope to invest in CPD training for their staff or in paid apprenticeships for graduates and school-leavers. Nor do they have an incentive to invest in training freelancers, since they have no guarantee of reaping the benefit of that investment beyond the length of a contract. This seems to be supported by evidence in the Creative Blueprint12, which estimates that 89% of creative businesses in its sector do not have any training budget. Of those that do, few spend more than £1,000. This lack of CPD training further exacerbates the problem of limited specialisation, while the result of few apprenticeship and graduate training opportunities is that many younger, new recruits are not sufficiently prepared for the realities of work in the sector.
‘Brain drain’: A survey of employers across the TV, interactive media, radio and games sub-sectors in the North West suggested that one of their key concerns was their ability to attract and retain the best talent, given the ‘overwhelming pull that London and the South East exerts on the audiovisual labour market – in terms of volume and range of jobs on offer.’13 The report went on to note that this is particularly true of recent graduates, who are pulled to the broader variety of jobs, specialisation, and training opportunities provided by large companies in the greater South East, but is also true of more experienced workers who, after gaining good experience locally, find that climbing up the career ladder requires them to move south. Freelancers in particular tend to be highly mobile, and many have moved from the North West to London and the South East to find work. As a result, BOP (2007a) found that, in TV, there were not sufficient freelancers to meet even the reduced regional demand in the North West. That report, though, pre-dates the recession. Anecdotal evidence gathered by Northwest Vision and Media suggests that the situation may have got worse, with the recession forcing more freelancers, especially in drama production, to move to London (or elsewhere) to find work.
3.2 Quality and employability of graduates Many employers have reported shortcomings in the quality of graduates entering the labour market. While this is partly a function of the lack of apprenticeship and graduate opportunities on offer, the content of many HE degrees is also often considered to be misguided or not sufficiently industry-focused. 12 13
Creative & Cultural Skills (2009) Op. cit. BOP Consulting (2007a) Op. cit.
The BOP Consulting report indicates that this is a particular issue for media and film, where HEIs have responded to student demand to create a large number of ‘theoretical’ humanities-oriented degrees rather than practice-based ones (p11, 2007a). The sheer number of courses can also be a problem. CCS’ Creative Blueprint (2009) indicates that there are 2,525 creative industries courses on offer in the North West, being taken by 48,700 students. Such a high volume of provision can confuse employers. Companies often struggle to determine which graduates have the knowledge of technical content or the business skills that would make them easily employable. In addition, competency standards are not widely used in the sector. Thus with a plethora of qualifications that employers need to familiarise themselves with, and no unifying standard for interpreting qualifications, employers are presented with a barrage of signals from the labour market, increasing the likelihood of employer-employee mismatches.
3.3 Demographic mix of workforce There are worries that the DCI sector’s workforce does not fully reflect the demographic mix of the wider community. The reasons for this are varied. In the creative industries they include a culture of relying on unpaid interns and lowly-paid entry-level staff; the importance of social networks and connections for finding work; and a longstanding suspicion of the value of formal qualifications (as opposed to relevant work experience). These factors have tended to make it hard for newcomers, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to break into the sector. This in turn means that the sector is not always drawing on the full range of talent that is available to it, and may be unable to tap into culturally diverse niche markets. Skillset found that the level of black and minority ethnic (BME) employment in the creative media sub-sector is, at 5.0%14, broadly in line with the BME proportion of the region’s overall population – 5.5%. BME groups make up 7% of the sub-sector’s employment across the UK as a whole. However, as Skillset15 has noted elsewhere, while the region’s BME population share is 5.5%, DCI companies are typically based in urban areas, which usually have a higher proportion of ethnic minorities than the regional average. The proportion within the DCI sector might therefore be expected to be higher than it currently is. The relatively low proportion of women in some sub-sectors may also be a cause for concern. With women now making up the majority of university graduates, businesses (and industries) need to be seen to be ‘women-friendly’ if they are to be able to recruit highly-skilled workers. This is likely to be a particular problem for computing companies given the low proportions of women taking computer courses at school and university. Attracting young people into the DCI sector is also presenting challenges, despite the perceived glamour of much of the sector. As e-skills has noted16, the workforce in some industries is ageing. Worries have been expressed that careers guidance and information is inadequate, and that academic courses, from GCSEs to degrees, may not be preparing young people properly. Given that youth trends are key drivers in many DCI consumer markets, this poses risks for companies. The report now turns to a discussion of some of the schemes and initiatives which aim to address the deficiencies in both the demand for and supply of skills. 14
Skillset Employment Census (2009) – Sector breakdown by region Skillset (2005) North West England – Collaborative Action Plan for the Audio Visual Industries 16 E-skills (2008) Op. cit. 15
SCHEMES AND INITIATIVES
Future trends in demand for skills Improving skills levels will require improvements both in the supply of skilled people and in the demand for those skills. On the demand side, the recession has in all probability reduced the size of the regional market for the DCI sector (though Skillset’s figures suggest the arrival of the BBC at MediaCityUK is compensating in its particular industries). Many of the DCI sub-sectors, particularly those in creative services, are dependent on the performance of other sectors. Thus the majority of DCI businesses cannot expect to return to strong growth until these other sectors, particularly financial services, have stabilised. Meanwhile, sub-sectors that are reliant on the public sector either for direct funds or as a commissioner of work (such as advertising or marketing) face prolonged uncertainty as the anticipated public spending cuts begin to bite. The recession is not confined to the North West of course – all parts of the country have been hit. Nonetheless, it has taken the region further away from the critical mass it needs to hold on to talented people. In this context, MediaCityUK becomes even more significant, as it is the main opportunity the region has in the next few years to achieve a stronger market. The relocation of the Future Media and Technology department to Salford in particular is potentially momentous: Britain’s largest media organisation will be carrying out much of its leading-edge research in the North West. Section 4.1 therefore discusses MediaCityUK and its potential effect on regional demand. It also briefly discusses other projects and inward investment in the sector (section 4.2).
Future trends in supply of skills As we have seen, the small size of companies and the project-based nature of some DCI industries can make it difficult for the private sector to justify spending on training. This implies that the public sector has to step in to provide the training the sector as a whole needs, and also offers the public sector the chance to help build a more diverse workforce. The government has recognised this, and has sponsored a series of initiatives to boost skill levels, such as the Higher Level Skills Strategies and the national Skills Academies. However, the research cited in this report has often indicated that the public sector is struggling to achieve the quality standards that employers are looking for. Some of this is an inevitable consequence of the rapid changes that the DCI sector is undergoing, driven by technology in particular – it is difficult for education institutions to keep on the cutting edge in such a fast-changing world. Nevertheless, there are some things that can be done to improve things. Section 4.3 of the report outlines some of the initiatives which are under way to try and tackle these deficiencies.
4.1 MediaCityUK The development of MediaCityUK in Salford will have a major impact on the DCI sector in the North West. An estimate from NWDA (quoted in BOP, 2007a) suggested it could result in as many as 15,500 jobs, of which 4,000 would be in the media. This gives an indication of the potential significance of the development; Skillset’s estimate of total employment in its sub-sectors in the North West in 2009 was just 17,050. Since many of the problems identified by employers stem from the small size of the regional market, Study of the digital and creative industries in the North West: Skills needs BOP Consulting 2010 (www.bop.co.uk)
MediaCityUK offers a real opportunity to address some of the skills gaps in the region. It is crucial, however, that such gaps are addressed quickly, before the development increases the demand for skills, otherwise it is likely that many of the new jobs will be sourced from outside the region.
Background The BBC’s decision to relocate five departments to Salford – the Children’s Department, Future Media and Technology, Learning, Sport, and Radio Five Live – was the trigger for a new development which is intended to transform the creative and digital industries in the North West. Phase 1 of the development will see the BBC as the main occupant of three buildings on the site, occupying over 330,000 sq ft of space. The University of Salford will occupy four floors (just over 100,000 sq ft) of another building. There is a further 292,000 sq ft of speculative office development.
DCI Supply Chain The major source of information for the skills needs of MediaCityUK comes from a recent study done by SQW Consulting17, which considers the supply chain requirements (and hence the recruitment demands and skills needs) of the development. The most pertinent aspects of that study are summarised here. (The report considers many non-DCI sector supply issues as well, which are omitted from this analysis.) The BBC, of course, is the centre of the supply chain. As the development is still under construction, this is the only business for which reasonably robust assessments can be made. In order to indicate the requirements of other businesses that will populate MediaCityUK, SQW developed a scenario of the likely business mix for a development of this ambition and scope, based around the BBC’s ‘pull factor’. The details are shown below in figure 2. Figure 2 - Hypothetical business mix
Business Large internet company Advertising company Interactive media Games company Global media brand
Notes E.g. Search engine; ISP Nationally significant E.g. Comparison website n/a n/a
No. of staff 200 100 50 40 150
Source: SQW (2009), adapted by BOP Consulting (2009)
BBC The BBC’s relocation of the five departments will account for £225m of production and £275m of commissioning spend. SQW estimates that, potentially, up to £66m of these commissions could be sourced in the North of England, provided that there is capacity to meet this demand. By SQW’s estimation, there is capacity to meet the likely postproduction and studio provision demand, but in other areas, such as independent production (where potential demand is estimated at approx. £37.5m), the challenges will be greater. 17
SQW Consulting (2009) MediaCityUK Supply Chain, Workforce and Skills
The BBC will migrate certain roles from its current Oxford Road location in Manchester (about 800 jobs), as well as from its London office (about 1,500 jobs). The move from Oxford Road is unlikely to create many net new vacancies, but the move from London should do so, as many staff with strong ties to London will remain there. Of the 32 senior managers affected, for instance, only 15 have agreed to relocate, while SQW suggest that around 45% of middle management and 25% of lower grades will be willing to move to Salford. Of the vacancies that arise in the re-location, around a third will be filled internally by the BBC. SQW has divided the roles that will be filled externally into the following groups:
Senior management roles: Due to the high profile of these roles, they will probably be filled from a wide-cast (national) net. They require very specific experience and skill sets and, given the lack of specialisation in the North West, are unlikely to be filled locally.
Mid-career grades: These roles will include journalism, multi-platform, interactive, some technical areas, and certain roles within production. There are expected to be a high proportion of mid-career grade vacancies, due to staff not relocating from London. Potentially, many of those recently made redundant by ITV in Leeds can be absorbed here.
There is potential for experienced freelancers and employees from smaller companies to fill these vacancies. However, candidates will need to consider their relevant levels of specialisation, and many may need to seek additional training before applying for these roles.
Lower level grades: Ideally, these roles would be filled by some of the large number of graduates from the North West’s HE and FE sectors. Having the option of entering employment in an established company with large scope, and close to home, should help negate the ‘brain drain’ problem mentioned earlier. However, careful consideration still needs to be given to the workreadiness of the graduates, and the ‘smoke screens’ hindering the BBC’s ability to judge which HEIs offer the best calibre graduates. The links between HEIs, FEIs, and business need to be clearly defined and built upon if new graduates are to be able to take advantage of the graduate positions on offer.
Other companies (hypothetical) SQW also provide estimates of potential staff requirements for the hypothetical business mix proposed in figure 2. We will not focus on these in any great detail as the number of new staff required for these companies will depend upon the incoming business’s particular circumstances: where they are relocating from, how many of their staff would be prepared to relocate, and what levels of seniority and experience the vacancies entail. However, SQW did suggest that there were three broad areas where recruitment would be a challenge.
Recruiting for senior management roles may be a challenge, although businesses that are relocating will presumably need to have the support of their senior managers to even consider such a move.
In technically focused sub-sectors, such as programming or multi-platform skills, there is a high demand for skilled people nationally – MediaCityUK firms would have to compete with opportunities in London and the South East.
Creative sub-sectors are also seeing a convergence between creative and technical skills needs.
MediaCityUK will also create work along the supply chain, with demand for skills to service these businesses. The value of the demand generated is given (as estimated by SQW) in figure 3 below: Figure 3 – Value of media supply chain requirements for MediaCityUK scenario Outsource Audit & Legal Media production Freelance £ 000s accounting IT services services Payroll Marketing buying services talent Internet company 124 2,480 347 32 620 Advertising company 9 434 174 16 1,116 161 2,170 Interactive media 93 226 217 8 75 Games company 18 180 167 6 87 3,410 Global media brand 51 620 174 24 2,480 1,240 1,860 Total 295 3,940 1,079 86 3,262 1,116 1,401 7,440 Source: SQW (2009), adapted by BOP Consulting (2009)
As shown above, the majority of opportunities are likely to be in additional IT services, marketing, and freelance talent. The latter is the most economically valuable – close to £7.5m – and in SQW’s view could be the deciding factor in location decisions. The North West needs to ensure that the existing freelance talent has the right knowledge mix to tackle such roles. Due to the dearth of CPD in the North West, there is a role for public agencies to supply freelancers with the training not provided on the job. Advertising the experience, knowledge and availability of the freelance pool in the region could also be a key factor in attracting the right businesses to MediaCityUK.
Summary MediaCityUK will play a pivotal role in changing the profile of the DCI sector in the North West. The BBC is Britain’s largest and arguably most respected media organisation, and the departments it is re-locating are major employers, which will add significantly to the size of the DCI market in the region. This is a once-in-a-generation chance for the North West, which it must take full advantage of. However, if the benefits of this are to be realised, it is important that certain skills gaps are addressed, in order to inspire confidence in incoming businesses that local talent will be a sound investment. This will be a key factor in attracting business to the area in the first place, and in persuading businesses to hire locally rather than outsourcing or importing skills. Public agencies may be able to play useful brokering roles in these processes – introducing commissioners to local independent producers, for instance – as well as contributing to training programmes directly. However, time is short: it is probably in the next couple of years when the new departments are ‘bedding in’ that opportunities are greatest.
4.2 Other schemes Technology Parks While there is no other scheme in the North West of a comparable size to MediaCityUK, there are a number of smaller projects under way, though they tend to be aimed more at the technology end of the spectrum. They include:
Daresbury Science and Innovation campus
This facility was developed in 2005 around the long-established Daresbury Laboratory by a range of partners, including NWDA and local universities. The Daresbury Innovation Centre is now home to nearly 100 science and technology businesses.
Wavertree Technology Park (Liverpool Innovation Park)
Located outside Liverpool city centre, Wavertree Technology Park was originally developed in the 1980s on former railway sidings. A programme of infrastructure improvements was completed in 2008, and the park has been rebranded as the Liverpool Innovation Park, aiming to attract ‘knowledge economy’ businesses. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe is among the companies based there. There is also a scheme called Liverpool Digital on an adjacent site which is targeted, as the name suggests, at high-tech digital firms.
The Sharp Project, Manchester
The former Sharp European Distribution Centre in east Manchester is being converted into a digital industry hub at the cost of £16m. It is hoped that the resultant studios and offices will attract up to 85 companies from the sector, and create up to 550 jobs.
Funding support Northwest Vision and Media also runs a number of business support initiatives. One of these is the Regional Attraction Fund, which has two strategic objectives: to attract highgrowth independent producers to the North West, and to support high-growth indigenous companies. It has had some success in bringing new businesses to the region: Baby Cow Productions (co-owned by Steve Coogan) has moved to the area, and Channel X/Karushi Management and Hat Trick have set up Northern operations.
4.3 Skills initiatives The government has stressed the importance of increasing skills levels across the workforce as a way of ensuring that Britain can compete in a global marketplace where technology is changing rapidly. The 2006 Leitch Review of Skills, in particular, emphasised the need to increase the proportion of people with higher level skills. Many of the initiatives that have stemmed from this and other reviews have been adopted across the economy. They include:
§ § §
Train to Gain – an LSC initiative to raise the skills levels of the workforce Higher Level Skills Strategy, supported by the sector skills councils Sector skills councils approving and accrediting qualifications
§ § §
Increasing Apprenticeships National network of Skills Academies Introducing the new 14-19 Diplomas
Each industrial sector develops its own version of these policies. This next section looks at a selection of these initiatives in the areas covered by the three sector skills councils we are examining, and discusses their application in the North West (where information is available). It should also be noted that public sector bodies play important brokering and partnership roles in the region. Northwest Vision and Media, for instance, delivers a range of training opportunities such as placements, workshops and mentoring, usually funded by NWDA. Some of these are discussed further later on in this section.
NW Higher Level Skills Partnership’s Creative and Digital Sector Panel The Partnership covers a number of industrial sectors, of which the digital and creative industries are one. It aims, as the name suggests, to boost higher level skills in the region. It has several sector-specific panels. The one for the creative and digital sector consists of a group of national and North West organisations, including North West Universities Association (NWUA), NWDA, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), Skillset, e-skills, and Skillfast, and is currently funding pilot employer-led CPD Higher Education Programmes. One such pilot is the partnership between North West Renaissance in the Regions museums. The programme is being led by Manchester Art Gallery, the North West Federation of Museums, and the Centre for Museology at the University of Manchester. Based on a skills needs analysis (initiated by the partnership), the programme aims to optimise increased partnership working in museums by developing the strategic skills, understanding and capacity of museum staff.
Skillset Media Academies (Skillset) Skillset has accredited the work of 22 further and higher education institutions under the ‘Skillset Media Academy’ brand. These are designed to build long-term partnerships between the TV and interactive media industries and the education sector. They have been selected for having a strong practice-based focus to their courses. Although the academies are still rivals in that they compete for students and funding, they are also members of the Media Academies network and thus aim to share information and experience to benefit the wider sector. Two of the Academies are in the North West: the University of Salford and Liverpool John Moores University. Salford’s Media Academy will be based at MediaCityUK. It is perhaps worth noting that the North West does not have a Skillset Screen Academy.
The Diploma in Creative and Media (CCS, Skillset and Skillfast) CCS, Skillset and Skillfast-UK, have worked in partnership to develop this diploma. Aimed at 14-19 year olds, it will offer a mix of practical and theoretical learning together with work Study of the digital and creative industries in the North West: Skills needs BOP Consulting 2010 (www.bop.co.uk)
experience to provide a thorough but broad-based grounding in the creative and media industries. These skills can be explored through a range of sector-related disciplines.
CC4G (e-skills) CC4G is a club aimed at 10-14 year olds, especially girls, to encourage them to study ICT later on in their schools careers. In all, 124,000 girls in 3,700 schools across England have benefited to date18. Initiatives like these should help to increase both the overall numbers of skilled people and the diversity of the workforce.
Creative Choices (CCS) This is an online platform that provides access to career management tools, a large body of research and industry intelligence (gathered by CCS), and online networking opportunities. The site works with a number of creative industry organisations and regional partners to commission content and help companies source additional funding and expertise. We did not find information on such partnerships specific to the North West.
Media and Creative Apprenticeships (Skillset and CCS) This is a national programme that focuses on providing young people with a qualification (GCSE or A Level equivalent) while learning on the job as well. Graduates from the programme will be better adapted to the work environment than will secondary school graduates without work experience. The programme involves partnerships of education institutions and local businesses. The Advanced Apprenticeship in Media Production is designed to help young people from the North West who would not normally get a chance to work in the industry, through a mixture of college-taught modules and media placements. There are 20 trainees recruited each year on this 18-month long programme, which is funded and delivered by the BBC, the Learning and Skills Council (as it was then), and NWVM. Companies taking part also include Lime Pictures, ITV Granada, Nine Lives Media, Sumners, Channel K and Shine North. The pilot started in Sept 2007, and the scheme is now in its third year. So far 92 young people have been supported on the programme, with 60 trainees moving onto the full advanced apprenticeship. Fourteen different BBC departments have supported apprentices, as have 30 different independent companies. In the North West, the Creative Apprenticeships programme has been pioneered in Liverpool, which currently has ten apprentices in arts or related businesses, including Tate Liverpool, National Museums Liverpool, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and the Liverpool Biennial. Most of the funding comes from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and from Museums, Libraries and Archives. Initiatives are also under way in Manchester (working with the Manchester College), where ten apprentices will start work in April 2010 at the Royal Exchange, the Lowry, Cornerhouse, Manchester Apollo, Zion Arts Centre, Manchester Art Gallery, and the Manchester City Council Cultural Strategy Team. All these opportunities are funded solely 18
E-skills UK (2009) Creating the IT Nation: The Strategic Plan for England 2009-14
by the employers themselves. Meanwhile in Lancashire, there will be six new apprentices starting in April, with Preston College as the college provider. Overall, there are now around 70 creative apprentices on various schemes across the North West.
Northwest Vision and Media Initiatives Northwest Vision and Media is the regional cluster organisation for the digital and creative sector in the North West. It aims to provide strategic leadership to the sector, to attract businesses and production to the region, to support creativity and, most relevantly for this report, to develop skills and talent. NWVM is already aware of the issues set out in this report from its own work and those of others, and has taken steps to address them19. NWVM’s primary vehicle for doing this is the Digital Media Skills Programme, which has received £2.8m of funding from the NWDA. The Programme is designed to be flexible and responsive to industry needs – it has, for example, responded to the wave of redundancies in publishing regionally by devising a skills conversion programme for journalists, with the arrival of Radio 5 Live in mind. The Programme sets out a series of initiatives for 2010 to 2013 and is aimed at all levels of expertise. A series of objectives have been identified around which NWVM’s work in this area is to be based. They are
§ § §
Developing the training infrastructure Improving business support interventions in skills development Improving the skills and knowledge of new entrants, freelancers, permanent staff and business managers and leaders.
This report will not list all of the initiatives developed in response to these objectives here, but a couple of examples give an indication of NWVM’s industry-focused approach.
The Accidental Leaders programme is targeted at directors and CEOs of SMEs in the digital and creative sector. It aims to improve their leadership, team building and networking skills to help them run their businesses better. The programme itself is delivered by the Swedish company, Hyper Island, which has a notable track record in this type of work.
A further initiative, Digital Media Exchange (DMeX), places twenty TV freelancers into digital agencies. By combining the experience of the freelancers with the cutting-edge technology of the digital companies it provides mutual benefits that allow new markets to be tapped. The programme is run by The White Room consultancy.
The DMSP has been running for more than two years, and according to NWVM it has trained 850 people and created 30 new jobs in that time. It has also been very successful in placing new entrants into employment and in reaching highly experienced professionals – a group that has historically been hard for public-sector training bodies to reach. The Programme has attracted more than £500,000 of private industry investment.
North West Vision and Media (undated) Digital and Media Skills Programme extension 2010-2013: project rationale
SUMMARY Although the North West has a number of highly successful digital and creative businesses, the defining characteristic of the market in terms of skills requirements and availability is the prevalence of small companies. The absence of either a critical mass of companies or strong regional demand in the North West means that companies do not have the scope to specialise extensively, nor do they have the budgets to train people fully. The unpredictability of workflow means that they prefer to hire freelancers to accommodate demand fluctuations. Furthermore, the predominance of small companies makes it difficult to recruit and retain the region’s best graduates, as they face unclear career progression and poor training prospects locally. The BBC’s increased commitment to the region will significantly affect the audio-visual and digital industries, boosting both demand and skills needs. Moreover, its presence should attract other large companies in related sub-sectors to MediaCityUK. As such, it could be the basis for a wider, more diverse DCI sector in the region. This injection of larger, high profile companies presents an opportunity to address some of the weaknesses of the DCI labour market. Firstly, the number and size of contracts issued to North West companies by the BBC will increase. This means there should be scope for some companies to specialise more. The amount of training provided should also increase. Some of this may come from the BBC itself – Anne Morrison of the BBC Academy has said that her organisation is considering extending its training programme to those outside the BBC itself20 – while some should come from other companies which, with a more stable supply of work from the BBC, may be able to commit more resources to training. New graduates will be attracted to the opportunities the BBC provides. However, there may also be dangers in the BBC’s expansion. Its appeal may mean that it draws talent away from small and medium-sized companies in the region, so ultimately weakening the sector. If this is to be avoided, skills need to be strengthened across the sector. The digital and creative industries are currently being driven by globalisation, technological change, environmental change, and government policy. These drivers demand dynamism and adaptability in response, to deal with the convergence of digital platforms and the increasingly sought-after skills mix of technical and business knowledge. Developing these hybrid skills is not easy. Skills need to be improved both among current employees (CPD training) and prospective employees (new graduates). Given the limited scope for training in small companies and among freelancers in the DCI sector, HEIs and public sector agencies have unusually important roles to play. The challenge they face is to identify areas of pressing need and to meet them through training and brokerage, while avoiding creating a plethora of courses and programmes that end up confusing employers and employees alike.
BOP Consulting (2009) National Creative Industries Conference 2009 Summary Report
BIBLIOGRAPHY A number of reports and other documents were reviewed in the preparation of this report, only some of which are cited in the main text. The full list was: BOP Consulting (2007a), Mapping Supply and Demand for skills in the Audio-Visual Industries in the North of England BOP Consulting (2007b), North West Vision Digital Content Sector Research Business, Innovation and Skills/Department for Culture, Media and Sport (2009), Digital Britain, Chapter 6 Creative & Cultural Skills (2009), Creative Blueprint NW: a Regional Plan for the Creative and Cultural Industries Donaghey, R. (2008), Priority Sector Skills Summary – Digital & Creative Internal NWDA research e-skills UK/Skillset/Creative & Cultural Skills (2010) Strategic Skills Assessment for the Digital Economy e-skills UK/Skillset (undated), Digital Britain: Creating the Skills for the Digital Economy – A summary of recommendations for action e-skills UK (2008), Technology Counts England: IT and Telecoms Insights 2008 How Do/Business Link NW (2009), North West creative and media industries 2009: The advertising industry How Do/Business Link NW (2009), North West creative and media industries 2009: The PR industry How Do/Business Link NW (2009), North West creative and media industries 2009: The publishing industry How Do/Business Link NW (2009), North West creative and media industries 2009: The digital industry How Do/Business Link NW (2009), North West creative and media industries 2009: The videogames and animation industry Knight, Kavanagh & Page/NWDA Research and Intelligence Unit (2007) Northwest Regional Overview: The Digital and Creative Sector: Unit Count Regional and Sub Regional Overview Learning and Skills Council (2008), National Employers Skills Survey 2007 Microsoft UK (undated), The Future of Digital Marketing: Executive Summary North West Higher Level Skills Pathfinder (undated), Creative and Digital Sector – The Regional Context
North West Universities Association (undated), North West HEI activity: Digital and Creative Industries Northwest Vision and Media (2009), A Digital Skills Programme for the Northwest 20102012 Northwest Vision and Media (undated), Digital & Media Skills Programme extension 2010 â€“ 2013 Project Rationale Oliver and Ohlbaum Associates (2009), PACT policy survey and financial census 2009 Skillset/Creative & Cultural Skills (2010) Strategic Skills Assessment for the Creative Industries Skillset (2009), 2009 Employment Census: The results of the seventh Census of the Creative Media Industries Skillset, 2009 and 2006 Employment Surveys (spreadsheets downloaded from www.skillset.org) Skillset (2005), North West England Collaborative Action Plan for the Audio Visual Industries SQW Consulting (2009), MediaCityUK Supply Chain, Workforce and Skills UK Commission for Employment and Skills (2010), Skills for Jobs: Today and Tomorrow. The National Strategic Skills Audit for England 2010 â€“ Volume 1 Key Findings