The Creative Society is an arts employment charity that helps young people into jobs in the creative and cultural industries.
The surprise announcement in the Queen’s Speech that the Government intends special help in getting 16-24 year olds into work is welcome indeed. The even more surprising news of help for this group in becoming self-employed is especially welcome. As we noted after the publication of November unemployment figures these are the young people that urgently need support if we are not to create a new lost generation. The “one-in-five”, as we called them in our recent blog (19.8 per cent of this group are actively seeking work), cannot afford to be out of work for months on end as they attempt to set out in their chosen careers.
Promised are: guaranteed education places for 16-17 year olds; guaranteed job or training help for 18-24 year olds from day one of unemployment (they will no longer need to be a year on the dole before getting this help); and a commitment that those still out of work after six months will get access to internships or training. But here’s the real breakthrough: they are also to be offered help to become self-employed. The Government’s broad outline makes no commitments to any specific sector but we are confident Yvette Cooper, DWP secretary of state, recognises that this latter measure has great importance to the creative industries. We have argued before that self-employment and help in acquiring basic business skills is an important component in keeping graduates with creative and cultural ambitions on track to work and that Britain will desperately need this experience as we come out of recession. This is the moment for Ben Bradshaw (above), culture secretary, to get on to the DWP and make finding paid work a reality for thousands of would-be artists, designers, musicians, actors, writers and creative graduates.
We look forward to seeing the flesh on these promises and are committed to lobbying government (of any complexion) to seeing it through. The right support now could prove a terrific boost to young would-be creative entrepreneurs to set up micro-businesses in the cultural sector – enterprise we can’t afford to lose.