The creative sector is continuing to enjoy a huge surge in the UK. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport has revealed that there are over 298,000 businesses in the UK working within the creative industries, representing 11.8% of the UK total. As one of the few sectors that are continuing to grow (total filled jobs grew by 4.3% by June 2021), it is no surprise that more graduates than ever before seek career opportunities within creative industries.
Historically, graduates needed to have studied a creative degree (such as animation, computer arts, film, graphic design, illustration, or photography) to break into the sector. But in recent years, the proliferation of creative companies means that they are moving into a new business direction. Many innovative companies are actively looking for those who have studied for PR, marketing, and general business studies or finance degrees. But there are now opportunities for maths graduates, computer scientists, data analytics specialists, behavioural scientists, and even linguistic experts to join their teams.
What was once a career only suited for creative types has become more accessible and technical than ever before.
What are the creative industries?
The UK government has officially defined the creative industries as “those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill, and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property” (source: gov.UK)
You may be surprised to realise that the creative industries contribute over £115bn to the UK’s economy each year. What’s more, the UK is recognised globally for being a leader in creative talent and innovation. In fact, almost 1 in 8 UK businesses are categorised as creative businesses.
As a result, job opportunities have arisen in various professions, from advertising and marketing to design, software development, IT, publishing, and even architecture.
Why are the roles in creative industries sought after?
There are many reasons why graduates are increasingly looking towards the creative sector for employment opportunities. Typically, those working within the creative sectors can benefit from flexible working patterns. For example, there are opportunities for people to work in agencies or as part of an in-house team. In addition, you can choose to work employed or self-employed. And you can benefit from opportunities to develop your artistic side, as well as focus on your strategic planning.
Another reason so many people flock to the creative sector is that it is hugely independent. In fact, 95% of the entire creative industry are categorised as micro-businesses, meaning that they employ less than ten employees. This means that as a graduate, you can collaborate directly with your company directors. As a result, you may find that you’ll pick up new skills quickly and easily, and you could benefit from fast career advancement opportunities.
Another advantage is that creative employers are located across the UK, with an even geographical split. This means that opportunities for thriving careers are balanced across the entire country, with less focus on ‘London-weighting.’ This is an attractive proposition for those who want to enjoy a successful career in a different location.
What job opportunities are available in non-creative roles within creative companies?
The creative sector is changing rapidly. Businesses within creative industries are leading innovation and changing the way that we live our lives. Without the creative industries, we wouldn’t have streaming services. We wouldn’t be able to shop online. We wouldn’t have apps on our phones or be able to order things straight to our doorsteps.
More than ever, businesses understand the roles that creative companies play within business strategy. Firms are investing in their marketing budgets to attract new customers. They are making the most of computer software to improve their research and development. They realise how to make the most of their cultural heritage to stand out from the crowd. And to do this, they are investing in new areas and requiring new skills from a broad range of talented individuals to help them continue to grow.
Here are just a few of the emerging job opportunities available within the creative sector for those who do not consider themselves creative people:
Project management / Account management
You may be a strong organiser and have attention to detail. Perhaps you thrive on communication and have exceptional relationship-handling skills. Firms realise that to innovate and create, they need to allow their creative teams to focus on their strengths. Account manager and project manager roles are increasingly important to ensure that deadlines are met, and budgets are adhered to within agency settings.
Administrative support and business strategy
Perhaps your strengths lie in business strategy. You may be someone who can understand what a company needs to do to achieve its aims, but you don’t have the creative skills to do the work required. Client liaison, administrative support, and business strategy jobs play a vital role in many creative employers. These are teams that are responsible for communication between all relevant parties. They relay any messages and strategic direction from clients to the creative teams and ensure that any ideas align with the long-term business strategy.
We live in a world where data is king. Businesses rely on data analytics to make informed decisions and to identify or predict trends. However, because data analytics is still relatively new, many creative sectors depend on recent graduates to understand how to interpret this data and convert theory into practice.
There are many areas where data analytics is essential. For example, you may require audience analytics to understand how your audiences are behaving. You may use website analytics to track how visible your website is and confirm if it’s performing as it should be. HR teams may even use employee analytics to identify if staff are working as productively as possible or to identify any training requirements.
The growing use of data within the creative sphere means that graduates with analytical degrees (perhaps maths, data science, or computer science) are highly sought after.
The marketing sector is one of the biggest creative employers, and successful marketing campaigns need to understand how audiences and customers behave. They need to predict how an individual may respond to a message or campaign, and they need to be able to know how and why a person is behaving in a specific way.
One of the fastest-growing areas in behavioural analytics is within UX teams. This is where you use data to study how a visitor is behaving on your website. For example, you can track how a customer acts on your website and confirm if their behaviour matches your expectations through data. If their behaviour and your expectations do not align, creative businesses can use that data to make informed decisions and test ways to improve a website’s performance.
Finance, Human Resources, and IT
The creative sector may be full of microbusinesses, but they still need the same services as larger businesses in other sectors to function. For example, some creative firms may employ a business manager responsible for the accounts, the human resourcing elements, and the IT needs. Others may hire external contractors to oversee their IT and financing requirements to benefit from specialist and independent knowledge.
The creative sector is hugely exciting and continues to thrive…
The creative sector will continue to evolve, and as such, new job opportunities will emerge which will require new skills and new passions. It’s hard to believe that mainstream creative roles such as mobile app developers didn’t exist before 2007. And with continuous changes to technology, web developers may need an entirely different skill set in the next few years.
Therefore, creative employers are looking for graduates who have exceptional transferrable skills. They will be looking for potential employees who have passion for what they do and are excited to keep learning. Those who thrive in creative companies (even if they are not creative themselves), are those who work well as part of a team and can work together to create practical solutions to the trickiest of situations.
This article has been written by Matt Sherwen, the owner of Sherwen Studios, a leading digital agency in Chester. Sherwen Studios work with national brands, helping them to embrace changes, discover untapped potential and turn opportunities into progress.