Young people want creative careers but don’t know how to get there

A new study commissioned by Ravensbourne University reveals a high demand among 18-25 year olds to enter the creative industries, but a perception that it’s not attainable.

New research released by Ravensbourne University London shows high demand among young people for creative sector jobs, but a lack of understanding of salaries, career pathways or the range of jobs on offer.

Surveying 1000 young adults aged 18–25 during the week that A Level results were received in the UK, the research was commissioned by the London-based university, which specialises in the creative and digital industries.

It follows recent research into the state of the UK’s creative industries in the UK, which have revealed an input of £109 billion to the economy in 2021, and an estimated provision of as many as 2.3 million creative jobs in 2022.

One of Ravensbourne’s key findings was that 43% of young adults are interested in working in the creative industries. Of these 17% of the study’s respondents were currently employed by the sector and another 26% were actively seeking employment. A further 33% expressed interest in joining the sector.

According to the study, design was the second-most popular industry that respondents were looking to enter, selected by 28%, only topped by TV and film the most popular at 33%. Rounding out the top five was fashion at 25%, music at 23% and games at 22%.

In contrast to the interest expressed by participants, the study revealed that less than 25% had been recommended a creative career path by their schools, or given any guidance from a school, college or university to help them enter the sector.

Commenting on the research, Andy Cook, vice chancellor at Ravensbourne University London says: “The government’s Creative Sector Vision sets out a 2030 objective for stronger skills and careers pathways, but our creative industries need talent now.

“It’s important to let school leavers know that there are opportunities available in these sectors and to work with creative business to harness their talent.”

42% felt they were unable to pursue a creative career over perceptions that it was too difficult to join the industry, while more than a third (37%) expressed concern that AI would replace large numbers of creative jobs in the future.

The study also asked young adults about the contributing factors when making a career choice. Good pay came out top, with 32% of participants highlighting this as a factor.

Respondents also revealed a lack of belief in the availability of high-paying jobs within the creative industries, and a lack of knowledge of specific roles – including VFX animators (42%), UX designers (33%) and traditional craft-based roles including pattern cutting (35%) or broadcast engineers (22%).

According to Cook, the university sees “a large number of people enter the industry wanting to become film directors or fashion designers” but who are unaware of the much wider role of creative roles available “within and beyond the creative industries”.

He adds: “There is a clear disconnect between education, information and the needs of the industry that needs to be resolved”.

In the wake of recent government announcements of cracking-down on “poor-quality” degrees, Cook comments: “It’s time that we changed the old narrative about Mickey Mouse degrees, to champion the skills needed for one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy”.

All images courtesy of Ravensbourne University. Banner image credit Alys Tomlinson.

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