In England and Wales, vocational training can be taken on different educational levels, starting at secondary level and going up to further education. The two most common forms of vocational training are apprenticeships and internships, although volunteering can also be used as an opportunity to gain further skills. The creative industries offer a wide of vocational training options in different areas, ranging from photography and design to music and creative writing.
Apprenticeships are a devolved policy, meaning that each of the UK nations manages their own apprenticeship programmes and training. In England, apprenticeships are delivered by an employer in collaboration with a training provider or further education college and apprentices must be employed and paid for a minimum of 30 hours a week for at least a year and a day. Apprenticeships are delivered against standards or frameworks developed by employer groups and are a relatively new phenomenon in the arts. In recent years, apprenticeships have increasingly come to be seen as a means to combat the skills shortage in the sector, which was caused by the fall in GCSE and A-level entries in creative subjects (see chapter 5.2). According to Creative and Cultural Skills (see chapter 3.5.1) apprenticeships can also help diversify the workforce as they offer an alternative route to a career in the arts for those from underprivileged backgrounds or under-represented groups.
To encourage the creation of more apprenticeships, the UK government introduced the apprenticeship levy as part of its industrial strategy in 2017. This is a tax that can be used to fund apprenticeships and companies with an annual bill of GB£ 3 million or more have to pay 0,5% tax on their total bill. A Creative Employment Programme, which was run by Creative and Cultural Skills from 2013 to 2015, contributed to the creation of 4,500 apprenticeships, paid internships and pre-employment opportunities in the arts. With a GB£ 15 million fund by the National Lottery, the programme was aimed at unemployed young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who wanted to pursue a career in the arts.
Similar to apprenticeships, internships are entry level jobs focused on expanding the intern’s skill set. What distinguishes them from apprenticeships is that that there is not necessarily a training element at an educational institution. Although internships need to be paid, unless they are part of a formal programme of study or consist exclusively of job-shadowing, a recent study by the Sutton Trust found that nearly 86% of internships in the arts are unpaid, which makes them unaffordable for middle or low-income families and thus inhibits social mobility. Members of Parliament pushed for a complete ban on unpaid internships in 2017 and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs launched an initiative to crack down on unpaid internships in 2018. Nevertheless, unpaid work is so entrenched in the various sectors such as the arts that it is to be feared that the practice will not be eradicated in the near future.
A 2019 study by the Partnership for Young London, representing more than 400 organisations , suggested that graduates were over-represented in the arts sector, with employers unnecessarily requiring degrees for applicants for entry-level roles. According to the report this closed off opportunities for young people without degrees, including those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. The report recommended that young creatives without degrees should have access to a similar system of student loans and maintenance grants for apprenticeships and to start-up businesses.
The aim of the Clore Leadership Programme is to inspire and equip individuals to have a positive impact on society through great leadership of culture and to cultivate excellence, innovation, inclusivity and learning. In 2019, after 15 years of experience, it announced its intention to generate fresh perspectives on the future of cultural leadership. The Clore Leadership New Horizons programme, focussing on the challenges of early careers, was one of the beneficiaries of Arts Council England’s Transforming Leadership Fund that supports leadership development and diversity in the museums, libraries and arts sector. Another beneficiary was Jerwood Arts for a programme on the development of new creative leaders from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
The Broadcast Journalism Training Council is an industry led partnership of UK broadcasters, the National Union of Journalists and Screen Skills (formerly Creative Skillset), the sector skills council for the media industries which provides accreditation for educational courses for students aspiring for a profession in journalism.