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Young people and creative careers: Mapping 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.

The V&A’s Young People’s Team wanted to understand how to respond better to young people’s interests and needs by identifying profiles of young people pursuing creative careers. I have worked in cooperation with the V&A’s Young People’s Team to conduct 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

Read the description of the profiles (PDF file)

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