Creative sector is 'highly resistant to automation', report finds

Creative sector is 'highly resistant to automation', report finds

Sir Peter Bazalgette’s independent review into the Creative Industries has been released, revealing that the sector could be worth £128.4 billion to the UK economy by 2025 if a “sector deal” can be done between the government and the industry.

The Publishers Association (PA) and the Creative Industries Federation are among those which have welcomed the report, which found that the creative industries outperformed other sectors in terms of employment growth, with jobs in the sector leaping by 19.5% (equivalent to 300,000 jobs) between 2010-15 compared to the UK-average of 6.3%. The sector is also a net exporter of services (£11.1bn surplus in 2014).

The review also found that occupations in the creative sector are “highly resistant to automation”, with 87% of creative workers in the UK at low or no risk, meaning “their share of the workforce is likely to rise steadily in coming years”.

The creative sector also played a key role in the UK’s economic recovery according to the report, contributing £87.4 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2015, 5.3% of the UK economy and grew by 34% between 2010-2015  - faster than any other sector, the report found.

However, if creative companies are to achieve their projected worth of £128.4bn by 2025 (3.9% year-on-year increase) and employment growth of one million new jobs by 2030, it must not only reach a "sector deal" with the government but narrow the gap between London and the South East and the rest of the UK to ensure they are “more representative of UK society: attractive and accessible to a diverse range of people”.

Former Arts Council England chair Bazalgette said: “Looking forward fifteen or twenty years to what our future economy could be like, in every scenario the Creative Industries are of central importance to the UK’s productivity and global success.

“We have two great assets: the English language and our national capacity for creativity. But the skills and business models of this sector and of the wider creative economy are those which many experts judge to be of increasing importance: blended technical and creative skills; collaborative interdisciplinary working; entrepreneurialism and enterprise.

“Not only are the Creative Industries themselves likely to grow as a proportion of our economy, other industries rely on creative disciplines – such as Design and Advertising – to thrive.”

The report found that economies around the world are emulating the UK’s creative sector’s approach by recognising the broad economic and cultural benefits that a strong creative sector can bring. However, it also said this creative strength “cannot be taken for granted as if it were an endless natural resource: it needs to be nurtured through our education and skills systems else we risk falling back as countries such as China move forward”.

The digital era, also referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, represents an “enormously exciting opportunity for a further wave of growth and innovation,” Bazalgette said, but the UK needed to work hard to harness the value of the IP and invest in R&D to secure its reputation as “the most innovative place to make creative content”, he warned.

The document also recommended exploiting technologies such as Virtual and Augmented Reality, 5G, 3D printing and other new techniques “to keep innovation strong”.

“We need to reimagine this as a ‘creative-tech’ sector,” Bazalgette said. “The value that they bring is not only to the Creative Industries themselves but also as enablers to the wider economy.”

He also urged the government to ensure the final strategy for the Creative Industries’ Sector Deal was based on a fundamental understanding of what creative industries need “as a growth sector of the future” to thrive and warned that the fact the sector is highly mobile represented “both a risk and an opportunity”.

“With the right policy, regulatory and immigration regime we can accelerate growth and our reputation as leaders in this field,” Bazalgette said. “Get it wrong and this opportunity will slip through our fingers; swathes of this highly internationalised workforce will relocate to Canada, the US and Germany, whose governments are working hard to create attractive conditions for growth.”

One of the major recommendations of the report is that support for regional growth is prioritised through a £500 million Creative Clusters Fund. Bazalgette’s work found that although significant challenges exist for ensuring content creators are fairly remunerated for their IP, overall the UK has a “respected and robust IP framework”.

He also recommended that more work be done to excite young people and their teachers about jobs in the creative sector through a Creative Careers Campaign and advised both government and industry should ensure approaches to apprenticeships were “optimised for individuals and employers”.

Commenting on the report, Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the PA, said: "We very much welcome Sir Peter Bazalgette's report into the Creative Industries. There are a number of positive recommendations on clusters, careers and funding which could make a real difference to publishing. We would urge the government to set out details of how they will take forward this work as soon as possible."

John Kampfner c.e.o. of the Creative Industries Federation said: “Building the pipeline of talent to supply the creative workforce is crucial to ensure the continued success of the sector - the fastest growing of the UK economy worth £87bn. That is why the Federation particularly welcomes the initiatives around skills including our idea for a Creative Careers Campaign within the Bazalgette review.”