The UK creative industries sector has huge growth potential and will be a key driver of economic recovery, but risks being held back by a lack of relevant skills, the CBI has published.

A new report from the UK’s leading business group says that the creative industries sector is expected to employ 1.3 million people by 2013, potentially making it larger than financial services. But, the CBI warns that in order for the sector to meet its potential, urgent action is needed to train people to the required skills levels.

Susan Anderson, CBI Director for Education & Skills, said:

“Our creative industries have huge growth potential, but the lack of trained people with relevant skills to meet the sector’s specialist demands is holding it back.

“First and foremost we must ensure that all young people leave school with a strong grasp of the basics. Solid maths and science ability is particularly vital.

“These companies also expect a more detailed knowledge of IT and benefit from people with broader creative skills, so the Government must adapt the curriculum to meet these needs.”

The CBI’s recommendations for improving skills at school and college include the Department for Education (DfE):

• Ensuring that all young people continue studying maths post-16 at a level appropriate to them
• Introducing an automatic opt-in to triple science GCSE for the most able pupils
• Supporting the introduction of higher level computer programming and software development courses
• Including a creative or technical subject within the specification of the English Baccalaureate such as design and technology, computer studies, music, art and design or drama
• Along with employers jointly promoting best practice on business-school collaboration – for example with increased support for the work of Education and Employers Taskforce.

Ms Anderson added:

“As well as getting the basics right at a school level, we want to see greater collaboration between universities and companies so that courses keep up-to-date with the realities and needs of today’s creative industries market.

“It’s also crucial that we continue to develop the skills of the current workforce. Apprenticeships are an important way of achieving this and the Government needs to press ahead with its plans to reduce bureaucracy and break down barriers to entry for smaller firms.”

Additional CBI proposals to develop the talents of the UK workforce include:

• The National Apprenticeship Service and Sector Skills Councils to provide clear support and guidance to smaller and medium sized companies (SMEs) on how to access the apprenticeship system
• The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to promote Apprenticeship Training Agencies (ATAs) and other collaborative apprenticeship models – including large firms willing to over train apprentices for firms in the sector
• Skillset to continue promoting their internship guidance to spread best practice within the industry.

The CBI has published its recommendations ahead of the next meeting of Skillset’s working group on skills, which is supporting the work of the Creative Industries Council. This was established through the Government’s Growth Review to develop proposals for promoting the expansion of the sector.