The Creative Society is an arts employment charity that helps young people into jobs in the creative and cultural industries.
Last Friday 100 companies were referred to HMRC for using unpaid interns after an intervention from the campaign group, Intern Aware. Sadly, this came as no surprise to the Creative Society as our experiences since 2009 have shown us that unpaid internships are commonplace in the creative industries and act as a huge barrier to many young people wishing to pursue creative careers.
However, things could be about to change. Over the last year The Creative Society has been working directly with creative industry employers on a campaign to improve recruitment practices and tackle the issue of unpaid internships. As a result, we have developed a Fair Access Principle which commits employers who sign up to a minimum standard of recruitment. The principle has been formally included in the application process for a new £15 million jobs fund established by Arts Council England.
The Fair Access Principle is part of Fair Access, a Creative Society campaign, supported by Trust for London, which over the next year aims to encourage thousands of creative employers to sign up to the principle and publicly recognise their stance to end prolonged periods of unpaid work. We hope this public recognition will galvanise other employers in the sector and lead to a sea change in how the creative industries operate and recruit.
The Fair Access Principle was informed by extensive consultations with of range organisations including leading employers in the sector, campaign groups, such as Intern Aware, and sector bodies including Arts Council England and Creative & Cultural Skills, who co-produced recruitment guidance in 2011.
The Fair Access Principle’s inclusion in the Creative Employment Programme will allow us to establish a critical mass, sending a signal to employers that the future success of the UK’s creative industries depends on enabling young people from a range of backgrounds to access entry level jobs.
The Fair Access campaign stemmed from the findings of the Creative Society’s Future Jobs Fund programme, where 90% of the 800 young people we helped into paid creative role told us they would not have been able to take the position had they been unpaid.