The UK digital and creative sector has grown rapidly in recent years. It contributes almost nine per cent of total UK GVA and employs 2.1 million people. Digitisation of the wider economy is driving extremely strong demand for digital services, and the recent widening of tax relief has stimulated very strong growth in certain areas of the creative industries.
The greatest recruitment challenges are currently experienced by those seeking workers with digital skills. Graduate recruitment is an important source of workers for the sector, but there are concerns that many graduates leave university without up-to-date technical skills, or the softer skills required to be effective in the workplace. Rapid technological advances are leading to skills gaps amongst the existing workforce. At the same time, employers encounter fewer difficulties recruiting to some more creative roles which are extremely attractive to potential employees. However, it would be wrong to draw a simple distinction between the digital and creative sub-sectors. The boundaries between digital and creative are becoming increasingly blurred and employers increasingly seek a fusion of creative and technical skills, combined with business and softer skills.
Outlook for the digital and creative sector
Further growth in demand for digital content and services, in particular, is expected to drive expansion of the digital and creative sector. The sector is expected to need 1.2 million new workers between 2012 and 2022, to both support growth and replace those leaving the sector. This is equivalent to half the current workforce. There are particular concerns about the ability of the education system to supply the quantity and quality of workers needed for digital roles.
There was a strong consensus amongst those interviewed for this project that technological trends will be the most important influence on the future development the digital and creative sector and its skills needs. Reflecting the increasing convergence between digital and creative activities, this view was consistent across employers in both the digital and creative sub-sectors.