Skip to main content

Sector Information

The creative media sector is growing rapidly and is becoming increasingly important in the UK. In the UK, the sector is the largest producer of TV and radio content in Europe and it is second only to the US in the global film market. It has the largest publishing industry and has the largest number of content for computer games studios in Europe. The content for computer games is the third largest producer in the world. In terms of advertising excellence, the sector leads the world ranking. The creative media industries comprise:

  • animation
  • commercials and promos
  • content for computer games
  • corporate production , post-production and visual effects
  • film
  • interactive media design
  • other specialist facilities
  • photo imaging
  • publishing (books, journals, magazines, newspapers, directories and databases, news agencies, and electronic information services)
  • radio
  • television

Skillset is the Sector Skills Council for the creative media industries.

Source: Skillset Sector Skills Assessment 2010


Economic profile of the creative media sector

The creative media sector is one the UK’s major industrial sectors. It is a highly productive provider of creative content and makes the UK a world player in creative media and the market leader in Europe. It contributes 6.4% Gross Value Added to the UK economy. It is part of the knowledge economy and in terms of growth the creative industries has significant job growth.

The creative media sector has been growing in terms of productivity, but the current recession has damaged it like most other sectors of the economy. For instance, television has been struggling with advertising shifting to online opportunities. 84% of companies say their business has been affected by the recession in the past twelve months with a downturn in commissions received and budget reductions the most common experiences. Companies report non-payment for completed work, cancelled contracts, or lower overall levels of production. Over half of companies expect the recession to have a long term effect on labour supply for their business.

Source: Skillset Sector Skills Assessment 2010 and Recession to Recovery 2009

Return to the top


Creative media workplaces

There are an estimated 25,200 creative media companies (not including sole traders). 77% of these companies are small employing less that 10 people, comprising 19% of the workforce. 1% of companies are large employing 200 people and more, comprising 35% of the sector workforce.

Source: Skillset Sector Skills Assessment 2010

Return to the top


Sector employment

The creative media sector is a significant employer across the UK with 0.5 million people working in the sector and a further 130,000 employed in creative media occupations in other industries. It is estimated that 24% of the total creative workforce in the UK is employed outside the creative industries. A sub-set of which includes software publishing, which has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years. Employment in software publishing has been growing at 2% per annum, compared with a 1% average for the whole economy.

Overall, 34% of those working or available for work in the sector are ‘freelance’ and the remaining operate on an employee basis. Some of the creative media industries are characterised by high levels of freelancing, especially those areas most closely involved in the production process for example, including: film production (80%); independent production for radio (61%); photo imaging (60%); corporate production (54%); animation (46%); and independent production for TV (44%).

Source: Skillset Sector Skills Assessment 2010, Skillset Employment Census 2009 and Skillset Feature Film Survey 2009

Return to the top


Future skills and training gaps

In animation, training is needed in animation, specific software applications, new/digital technology, writing/script writing, accounting/finance, online/web design/interactive media/electronic games and producing.

In computer games, training is needed in programming, games design, graphic design, business development skills and accountancy/financial skills. Future gaps skill areas relate to graphic design, high resolution modelling and buying skills. There is a difficulty to recruit for senior roles but not for new entrants.

In facilities, training is needed in broadcast engineering, editing, technical equipment skills, motion capture, Macintosh IT skills, general industry experience and general business skills. Future skill gaps relate to broadcast engineering, vision engineering, technical skills and high-definition programming.

In film production there is a shortage of production accountancy skills, development executive skills particularly with insight and commercial acumen. Employers in distribution have isolated a clear gap in information management skills particularly through ICT and in exhibition there is a lack of fundraising skills and skills to develop small businesses. A key skills gap for the future, common for the film industry is new and digital technology and particularly managing the change from traditional to digital media. In production, digital camera skills and awareness are lacking. For exhibition and distribution employers, a key focus is exploiting opportunities such as online and digital sales, marketing and distribution.

In interactive media, training is needed for software/technical skills (e.g. ActionScript and Macromedia), engineering, digital compression, business skills, management/leadership skills and general understanding of the sector/business. Future skill requirements are for software and website design skills and project management skills.

In photo imaging, specialist software skills are the area in which most training is needed (reported by 58% of the workforce). Business skills, colour management, marketing and camera skills are the other four areas in the overall top five, though all are a considerable way behind specialist software skills.

In publishing, the major areas of skills gaps are in team working skills, oral communication skills and problem solving skills (all noted by 25% of employers with a skills gap), followed by customer handling skills (23%), management skills and general IT user skills (both 22%). The Academic Publishing consultation identified foreign language skills as a requirement in the increasing globalisation of the industry.

In radio, skill shortages are for: voice and presentation techniques; digital editing; research; communication and team working skills; project management; commercial awareness; and legal knowledge. Knowledge of IT networking systems, technical equipment, communication, project management and financial skills will be needed in the future.

In the television industry the number of hard-to-fill vacancies varies with the size of employer. The most common skill gaps reported by TV employers are camera, engineering, producing, production, commercial awareness, accountancy/financial skills and basic IT skills. In addition, future skill gaps are anticipated by a quarter (27%) of large TV employers. Specific skill areas cited relate to new media, technical and business skills.

Sources: Photo Imaging Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009, Publishing Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009, Animation Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009, Computer Games Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009, Facilities Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009, Film Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009, Interactive Media Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009, Radio Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009 and TV Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009

Return to the top


Future drivers and challenges

The innovation imperative – Companies will need to collaborate more with universities and research institutes, pay more attention to the skills of their workforce, and participate more in the business networks through which knowledge is increasingly diffused.

Vibrant external labour markets for talent – There is a shift where companies are opting to buy people’s knowledge and skills on the open market through outsourcing and short-term contracts, rather than hire employees. In addition, more firms are also creating internal network dynamics allowing many more staff to work flexibly.

The rise of the network economy – As firms focus more clearly on knowledge as a factor of production, they are organising themselves in new ways and being support by digital technologies.

Digital Britain – An ambitious agenda has been set to ensure the UK is at the leading edge of the global digital economy. Therefore, there is a need to upgrade to a full rollout of digital infrastructure in the UK, to invest in quality creative media and online services and to ensure that everyone can participate in the digital society.

Globalisation – This offers: increasing potential markets for UK-produced content in all formats across all media; increasing the range of foreign competitors with access to the UK market; and increasing the potential for sourcing services from the UK to overseas.

Lower cost technology and user-led innovation and content – This has become increasingly important and includes social networking sites, which enable users to become creators of content and to choose when, where and how they access content.

Future challenges for the sector are:

  • The growth in the new general purpose technology (GPT) which is rapidly enabling content to be transferred across platforms. For instance, people being able to watch most forms of entertainment on their phones and other devices. Soon, receiving equipment will be installed into the walls of homes, watches, other handheld portable devices, spectacles, headsets, ipods, epods, wherever there is access to broadband, content can be received.
  • Broadening the talent pool as women and people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds (BAME) are under-represented in many parts of the sector.
  • Creating a deep and broad skills base for the sector in terms of both general and specific skills development over the next decade to meet the demands of new technologies.

Source: Skillset Sector Skills Assessment 2010 and Working Futures 2007-2017

Return to the top