Hope Floats: Could 'Plan for Jobs' turn the tide for a sector navigating choppy waters?

Hope Floats

Sir Ken Robinson PhD
Sir Ken Robinson 1950-2020
August 25, 2020
The CASE for Arts & Culture in Recovery
September 11, 2020
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A young adult and older male walk through a cultural venue deep in discussion

Could 'Plan for Jobs' turn the tide for a sector navigating
choppy waters?

As the government unveils more details of its 'Plan for Jobs’, Curious Minds' Head of Careers & Employability, Holly Ball, reflects on the opportunities and challenges the initiative presents for the cultural sector.
As the country slowly began to re-open, the government announced its Plan for Jobs in July 2020. Amongst other things this includes; aiming to triple the number of traineeships available, more funding to encourage employers to take on apprenticeships and the introduction of the Kickstart scheme to fund the direct creation of high quality jobs for young people at the highest risk of long-term unemployment.

Historically the creative and cultural sector has mobilised behind national youth employment schemes, creating hundreds, if not thousands, of opportunities in a wide variety of roles. But the timing of this is different, very different. Throughout lockdown and continuing into the current stabilisation period, it feels like redundancy consultations are being announced on an alarmingly regular basis. Cultural venues are being forced to permanently close their doors and freelancers are sharing stories of losing a year’s worth of work overnight.

All of this creates a feeling of discomfort in response to new schemes like Kickstart. How can we look at the creation of new jobs when this is happening around us?
Yet... taking a step back... might there be a way that can we use the current situation and the current national initiatives to drive real change in our sector? Covid-19 has forced employers to re-write their business plans, revise their staffing structures, so we must seize the opportunity to create real, long-lasting change where we can.

As a sector we often talk about the lack of diversity within our workforce. Young people don’t see themselves reflected in the current creative workforce and don’t think that there is a career in it for them. There are already some high-quality initiatives and resources working to address workforce diversity and these must continue to play a role in this agenda. For example, ‘The Best Practice Recruitment Guide for Creative Leaders’ by Creative and Cultural Skills is designed to help employers reflect on their recruitment practice and the central role diversity and inclusion should take.

The ‘Plan for Jobs’ announcements are our opportunity to push this agenda even further. To develop a workforce that truly represents the communities we work with, affecting real change within an organisation, within a local area and beyond.

To achieve this, we must ensure that the opportunities we, as a sector, are using these funding streams to create, reach those who genuinely need them the most. It is vital that we level the playing field for all young people; enabling those without their own networks and without social capital to grow their own.

We know that change does not happen overnight. Systemic change - targeting all parts of the creative talent pipeline from primary education right through to management and senior leadership opportunities - is needed to create a truly diverse workforce. But if we can turn the tide and make the current climate the catalyst for that systemic change, then surely we can argue that we have taken the challenge head on and turned it to everyone's advantage.
Curious Minds is currently gauging interest from our colleagues in the North West cultural sector around joining a consortium to apply for the government's Kickstart programme.

Get in touch here to express your interest

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