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Creative and Media

The Job Market

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Find out about the job market in:

Art, design and craft industries

Cultural heritage

Media, interactive media, print and publishing 

Performance arts and music

Art, design and craft industries

  • In the UK, over 500,000 people work in this sector in total, with around 300,000 in craft work and 180,000 in design.
  • The industry is mainly made up of small businesses - more than 90% of those businesses employ less than 11 employees.
  • There are opportunities for designers throughout the UK, especially in large cities and towns, but 31% are based in London. However, Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter is the second largest jewellery manufacturing area after London.
  • Many craft workers and artists have more than one job to help them increase their earnings.
  • Most artists are self-employed in this very competitive area - getting work means bringing their work to the attention of the right people and using every opportunity to market it. Lots of artists often combine their work with another job.
  • Most goldsmiths/silversmiths work for relatively small companies, and many are freelance. The majority of employers are based in London, Birmingham, Sheffield, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Competition for entry-level jobs is high, especially training Apprenticeships.
  • Illustrators work throughout the UK. Most illustrators are self-employed and work freelance. They often have other paid jobs while they try to build up their business. It is a competitive area of work.
  • Employers or organisations that commission freelance technical illustrators include scientific or technical publishers, advertising agencies and broadcasting agencies, multimedia and web publishers, as well as architects, engineering firms and manufacturers. Many technical illustrators are self employed or work freelance.
  • Product designers work in a huge range of different manufacturing sectors. Employers include manufacturing companies and design consultancies that offer product design to a number of different clients. New entrants may face strong competition for their first job, but demand for experienced designers with a thorough understanding of technology is high.

Cultural heritage

  • Over 55,000 people work in the cultural heritage sector across the UK. 59% of these people work in museums.
  • Recent research published by Arts and Business (April 2009), based on a sample of 250 arts organisations nationally, suggests that while revenue from retail, ticket sales, cafés and restaurants are holding up, funding from private investment and trusts and foundations had decreased, so many venues needed to raise more money and scale back on some projects, exhibitions and performances.
  • According to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS-2009) in 2008/2009, visits to DCMS sponsored museums had increased by one per cent on the same period in the previous year (www.culture.gov.uk).
  • Data from English Heritage (West Midlands) shows that visits to English Heritage-owned properties in the region were up by 47 per cent in June 2009 as compared to June 2008.

Archaeologists

  • About 6000 people in the UK earn their living as archaeologists. Employers include planning consultancies, university archaeology departments and research groups, national or local government, national bodies and heritage agencies such as English Heritage, charities such as the National Trust, and archaeological organisations such as the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) and the Institute of Field Archaeologists (IFA).
  • The number of professional archaeologists is increasing, and further growth is expected. Entry to this profession is highly competitive and recent growth in undergraduate intake onto degree courses is not matched by the number of jobs available.

Art exhibition organisers

  • Staff are employed in galleries and museums throughout the UK. Some galleries and museums are funded by national or local government. Independent public art galleries raise income by charging for exhibitions or through admission fees.
  • Short, fixed-term work contracts are common, as long-term funding for the arts is often uncertain.

 Conservators/restorers

  • Conservators/restorers can work in both the public and private cultural heritage sector. Many work in museums, although there has been a decline in permanent vacancies, as work is often contracted out to self-employed conservators/restorers.
  • Although there is a shortage of conservators/restorers with the necessary skills, there is also fierce competition for jobs.

Museum assistants/technicians, visitor services assistants and curators

  • There are around 2,500 museums and art galleries throughout the UK. The number of staff employed varies according to the size and type of museum or gallery.
  • On average, about half of all staff work in visitor services. Some small independent museums and galleries rely also on unpaid volunteers to provide visitor services.
  • Curators may also work in university museums and smaller independent specialist museums and galleries. Freelance and consultancy work is becoming more common, with curators with specialist knowledge employed on short-term contracts to work on specific exhibitions. There is a high level of competition for curator jobs.

Media, interactive media, print and publishing

Interactive media industries

  • There are 39,750 people employed in 8,000 businesses in four sub-sectors - around 7,500 web and internet companies, around 500 offline multimedia companies, around 40 companies specialising in mobile content and a growing number of interactive TV companies.
  • Almost 24,000 people, the largest part of the sector, work in interactive or games production and a further 7,200 people work in the interactive or games industry on the business or operations side of the business.
  • 58% of the work force is under 35 years of age (This goes up to 76% in the computer games industry) and 80% have a degree.
  • Interactive Media is a growing industry in the West Midlands - around 1,600 people work in the computer games industry sector which is the UK's second largest regional base - with 20 per cent of the sector's workforce. Companies include Blitz Games and Codemasters. Around 100 people work in animation companies and this is growing in this region with companies such as Dimensions in Wolverhampton. The Lighthouse Media Centre in Wolverhampton also hosts an annual animation festival called Flip.
  • Animators are employed by small production companies, larger studios, post-production facilities houses, computer games developers and interactive media companies. There are some permanent jobs, but many animators work on a freelance or contract basis.
  • Computer Games Designers are employed by games development studios, which are either independent companies or owned by games publishers. Around 6,600 people in the UK work in computer games development.
  • Most interactive media designers work for graphic design, advertising, marketing and communications agencies, and for software developers or publishers. It is a fast-growing industry and skilled designers are in demand, but competition is fierce.

TV and radio

  • The TV industry has 1,450 businesses including terrestrial, cable and satellite broadcasting companies, independent production companies and growing numbers of community TV companies. There are a total of 55,900 people employed in the industry, but the TV industry relies on freelance workers with 34 per cent of those employed working freelance.
  • Two thirds of the TV workforce is based in London. However, 1,200 people work in the West Midlands region in broadcast TV, cable and satellite and independent production.  As well as the BBC and ITV Central, there are a number of small independent production companies producing factual entertainment for network and cable TV.
  • The TV workforce is highly qualified, with 71% having a degree.
  • The radio industry has been growing steadily in recent years and now employs over 22,000 people - more than terrestrial TV. Employers range in size from the BBC and larger commercial radio groups to not-for-profit community stations run manly by volunteers.
  • Radio is also significant in the West Midlands with around 1,000 individuals working in publicly funded radio, commercial radio and community and voluntary radio. The BBC has five local stations and there are a growing number of community stations. The largest concentration of radio stations locally is in Birmingham.
  • Sound technicians work for television broadcasters, cable and satellite companies, radio stations and independent production companies. They also work for theatres, music venues and for sound services companies that supply technicians for events and concerts. Some are employed, but many work freelance or on fixed-term contracts.
  • TV/Film Production Assistants work for terrestrial, satellite, digital and cable broadcasters as well as independent television and film production companies. Many production assistants are self-employed, working on short-term contracts on a freelance basis.

Publishing

  • There are just under 7,200 companies employing over 209,000 people in the publishing sector. Most companies are small with 85 per cent having 24 employees or fewer.
  • Newspaper publishing has the largest number of employees with 30% of the working population.
  • There is a strong regional press in the West Midlands and over a third of the industry work in newspapers with employers including Metro Midlands, the Birmingham Post and the Midland News Association.
  • Publishing Editors are employed by book publishers, magazines, newspapers, online publications and trade publications. Most magazine and book publishing opportunities are found in the south of England, particularly in and around London. The newspaper industry is based across the country in every region. Competition for editing jobs is fierce.

Photo imaging

  • There are nearly 14,000 companies - almost half of which are sole trading or freelance photographers. The total workforce is 44,000 people and half are based in the South of England. 93% of companies employ five people or fewer.
  •  In the West Midlands there are a large number of laboratories and retail outlets, and with nearly 2,700 people employed, in this job area, it is the second largest regional concentration.

Performing arts and music

  • 84,470 people work in the performing arts sector, in about 5,350 businesses - 88 per cent of whom employ fewer than five people.
  • 36% of the workforce is found in London.
  • Many performers and self employed artists work on an irregular basis and may need to take a job in another industry to make a reasonable income.
  • Actors mainly work in large cities - where a lot of the employers are based. Most acting jobs are temporary. Even experienced actors may need to do other work to supplement their income.
  • Most entertainers are self-employed. Gaps between jobs are quite common, so some entertainers do other work to maintain a regular income. Those with several skills are more likely to work regularly.
  • Lighting technicians are mainly employed by theatres, concert venues, television and video production companies, film producers and facilities companies. Lighting for special events, road shows and rock concerts is a growth area. Many specialist companies employ freelance lighting technicians on a contract basis.
  • Most make-up artists are freelance and work on short-term contracts which can last for just one day or up to a few months. Opportunities may be found in theatre, television and film, corporate productions and commercials, and with photographers working on magazines or advertising shoots. Competition is fierce.
  • Music promotions managers may find it hard to break into the industry as there is fierce competition. Many promotional managers are self-employed.
  • Popular musicians rarely work full-time - most musicians combine their work as a performer with another job. Social networking sites and 'youtube' have become important for musicians and bands wanting to gain exposure. Recording companies may look through these sites to find new artists.
  • Stage managers are employed by theatres, touring companies, concert production companies and community organisations. They may also work at festivals, theme parks, holiday camps and on cruise ships. This type of work is often seasonal. Many stage managers are self-employed and work on short-term contracts.