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Young people interested in creative careers: Support and information needs

Working in the cultural and creative industries is an attractive option for many young people. However, getting a foothold in the industry is not easy, especially when missing vital work experience and networks.

Over the last fifteen years the V&A’s Young People’s Team has been supporting young people aged 13 to 24 years old to access information and networks for building a career in the creative industries. The V&A’s Young People’s Programme offers creative skill-building workshops and free activities such as career insights sessions, social inclusion projects for young people who experience difficulties in accessing creative education and jobs, career festivals and a youth collective.

Young people are not a homogeneous group. However, the V&A’s Young People’s Team wanted to understand how to respond better to the their interests and needs by identifying profiles of young people pursuing creative careers. Working with Loughborough University London, the V&A have conducted in-depth research and evaluation studies on two flagship events offered regularly as part of the V&A’s Young People’s Programme:

  • A creative careers fair targeting young people interested in art and design (Making It: Careers in Art and Design) and fashion creative careers (Making It: Careers in Fashion and Costume); and
  • CreateFutures, a five-day creative skills workshop offered in cooperation with charities in East London.

 These in-depth studies shed light on how young people’s information and support needs differ in relation to the following topical areas:

  • Career decision-making: having made a decision over a creative career vs still deciding/exploring opportunities;
  • Career progression stage: low or no experience vs some experience/beginner professional;
  • Know-how: industry know-how (what happens in a creative field) vs career development know-how (how to prepare for and enter that field);
  • Depth and breadth of career information needed: wide-ranging and exploratory vs deep and focused information;
  • Young people’s knowledge base: low/some knowledge vs basic and above/intermediate knowledge on both sectoral and career-related areas.

These insights enabled the identification of five profiles of young people interested in creative careers, each in a different career stage and featuring different needs for information and support to advance their education, training and careers. The five profiles are:

  • Profile 1: The Selector. Starting to make decisions that will affect their career path
  • Profile 2: The Multifaceted Creative. Talented and interested in more than one field
  • Profile 3: The Decided. Chosen a career, looking for relevant opportunities in that field
  • Profile 4: The Switcher. Transitioning into a creative career
  • Profile 5: The Explorer. Looking for new ideas, spends time critically thinking to form new opinions

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