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OUR PUBLICATIONS > Disconnected: Social mobility and the creative industries

CCE Research

Disconnected: Social mobility and the creative industries

December 1, 2010

Author: Ryan Shorthouse (Ed.)

Institution: Social Market Foundation

Full reference: Shorthouse, R.(Ed.) (2010) Disconnected: Social mobility and the creative industries. London: Social Market Foundation

Summary of key findings

In this report, supported by Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE), a range of experts (Alan Milburn, Sir Win Bischoff, Stephen Overell, David Johnston and CCE’s Chief Executive Paul Collard) explore the role policy should play in improving social mobility in the UK’s creative industries.

The report begins with an analysis of the role of unpaid internships as an entry route into the creative industries. Three constraints on access for those from less affluent backgrounds to unpaid internships are identified: credit constraints – not being able to afford to work for free; network constraints – not having the right personal contacts to raise aspirations and access unpaid internships; and information constraints – not having sufficient knowledge about whether an unpaid internship is a worthwhile investment, likely to lead to employment.

Through a poll of 16-25 year olds the report finds that young people from low income backgrounds are just as likely to take on unpaid work as their more affluent peers. It is the strength of the young people’s networks, access to information and word-of-mouth recruitment that are more important factors in gaining employment in the creative industries.

The report concludes that policymakers should focus less on trying to phase out internships and more on ensuring that those opportunities are extended beyond the better off, to the widest possible range of young people. It recommends the introduction of a new Government-backed National Internship Kitemark Scheme to ensure fair access to the creative industries, with the aim of reducing the network and information constraints faced by those from more disadvantaged backgrounds.

Research Questions & Methodology

A YouGov poll of 16-25 year olds was commissioned to identify industries perceived by young people to require unpaid work experience in order to secure employment; to identify if any young people were put off from pursuing careers where unpaid work experience was necessary for access; and to examine if young people from lower socio-economic groups were more or less likely to have experienced unpaid internships compared to their peers from better-off backgrounds.

Part two of the report, contains an edited collection of essays by the expert contributors diagnosing the reasons for poor social mobility in the UK’s creative industries and offering solutions to improve the situation.

Go to the journal article.