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Creative Differences

Date: 25 Jun

Creativity abounds in Cornwall.  It’s there in the painters and the potters, the food and the photography.  Craft fairs are a regular feature of town and village life, and storytelling goes back centuries.  The landscape and the architecture has inspired many an aspiring writer, including myself – the first draft of my first book is awaiting the red pen treatment as I type.


But when it comes to the future careers of the young people in Cornwall, the creative industries offer opportunities that don’t immediately spring to mind.  I have worked in and around marketing for nearly 20 years, purely by accident.  I had no aspirations to be a marketer, and if you’d asked the 16 year old me what one did, I might have had a guess at advertising, but that would have been it.  In fact, the marketing industry has changed beyond recognition in those 20 years, and encompasses planning, design, copywriting, promotion, analytics and research, among other disciplines. And of course the channels have changed too and include traditional print and tv as well as email, social media and websites and many more. Acronyms are the currency digital marketers live by: PPC, NFC, QR, IVR, SMS, BR, CPC etc etc.  It’s an exciting, ever-changing world and has something to suit a wide range of skills and interests.


Marketing isn’t the only surprising sector that’s included in the ‘creative industries’ list – architecture, film, IT, publishing and museums all feature. And these industries are growing.  Cornwall’s excellent broadband connectivity means that they are growing here too – why be a graphic designer in London, when you can be one from home or in a small office here?


I was recently lucky enough to be at an event that featured Emmie Kell from the Cornwall Museums Partnership.  Some of the statistics she shared were fascinating.  The turnover growth of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly’s digital cluster was 95% from 2011-17, and the number of creative firms in the county increased by 26% (2011-2015)*.  There are some excellent programmes happening locally to reconnect young people to art and culture.


Critically though, all this growth is at a time when there has been a significant drop in the numbers of young people studying creative subjects. According to the Creative Industries Federation, the current entry rates to creative subjects at Key Stage 4 have fallen to the lowest in a decade. In their view ‘The UK’s education and skill system is predicated on employment models of the past rather than the workforce of the future’ – harsh words.


What does this mean for Careers Leads and Enterprise Advisers?  If growth is to continue, there needs to be a greater understanding of the opportunities for a fulfilling and rewarding career in the creative industries.  Encouragement and recognition needs to be given to those young people showing an interest in creative subjects and jobs.


In essence, we need to market marketing. I might know someone that can help with that!


* It’s worth remembering too that this does not include the small businesses and self-employed that are under the VAT threshold, so the real figures are undoubtedly higher.


Sarah Hathaway, Enterprise Adviser representative for Careers Hub Cornwall & Isles of Scilly