New research from the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) shows
widespread class imbalances in the UK’s Creative Industries. Only 16% of people in creative
jobs are from working class backgrounds, compared to almost a third of all workers from
these origins. People from privileged backgrounds are more than twice as likely to land a job
in the industry.
The creative industries are one of the UK’s greatest success stories and a driver of economic
growth and jobs, however the sector suffers structural weaknesses that are likely to worsen
during the pandemic. This study provides an up-to-date picture of workforce demographics,
with baseline data to rebuild a more inclusive and diverse creative sector.
The research further showed that people from privileged backgrounds are more likely to:
● Experience autonomy in their work and working hours
● Have supervisory responsibility
● Progress into managerial positions
● Dominate key creative roles in the sector, shaping what goes on stage, page and
The study also highlights a ‘double disadvantage’ in securing a creative job for women,
those from minority ethnic backgrounds, those with a disability, or with low skill levels.
Despite increasing action to promote inclusion in the sector by government and industry, the
likelihood of someone from a working class background finding creative work remains largely
unchanged over the past five years (17.6% of people in creative roles were of working class
background in 2014 compared to 16.2% today).
Over the next two years, the PEC will lead a programme of work to catalyse collaborative
action led by industry, trade bodies, wider stakeholders and Government. It will test and trial
new policy, programmes and practices that promote a more diverse and inclusive creative
economy and will show leadership as an industry on the vital issue of social mobility in the UK.
As part of this work, the PEC will be undertake ‘deep-dives’ into specific sub-sectors and
occupations in the creative economy to: develop rich insight and hear real-life stories;
surface the distinct circumstances and challenges evident in particular parts of the sector;
and explore what policy, programmes and practices might work best in these areas. The first
‘deep-dive’ will focus on the UK screen industries, in partnership with ScreenSkills, the skills
body for UK’s screen industries. The research will be UK-wide and will also work with wider
industry stakeholders including Pact, British Film Institute, UK Screen Alliance, Access VFX,
Animation UK, and Screen Industries Growth Network-Yorkshire.
Heather Carey, Co-Investigator at the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre and
Director of Work Advance , said:
“Through this work we want to catalyse collaborative action – led by industry, trade bodies,
wider stakeholders and Government – to test and trial new policy, programmes and
practices that promote inclusion in the Creative Industries; to show leadership as an industry
on the vital issue of social mobility in the UK. Even before COVID-19, the industry was
recognising a need to address these issues, and the pandemic has in many ways only served
to emphasise the vulnerabilities such practices create. As we look to rebuild the sector, now
is the time to consider how we can address long-standing structural weaknesses. We need to
consider how we can build a more inclusive creative economy and how we can unlock the
potential of the creative sector to support recovery and promote greater social mobility.”
Seetha Kumar, CEO of ScreenSkills, said: “Even before the COVID pandemic, there were
growing concerns about social mobility in the screen industries where those from privileged
backgrounds appear more likely to succeed than those who are not. However, we do not
know enough about class and social background in film and television and how they
influence career progression which was why we wanted to be a partner in the new more
detailed investigation into the issue.
“As we rebuild the industry after the coronavirus lockdown, we will use the light shed by this
new research on the important issue of background – and how that intersects with other
issues such as ethnicity, disability and gender - to identify what more we can do to unblock
barriers and unlock the potential of a greater diversity of talent.”
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