A dynamic mapping of the UK’s creative industries

25 February 2013

Latest research from Nesta, shows that the creative industries are a clearly recognisable economic force in the country.

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A recent report published by Nesta presents a series of findings and updates from Department of Culture, Media and Sport's (DCMS) previous classifications of the creative industries, which were released 14 years ago.

The independent charity has found that the DCMS' classifications show some inconsistencies. Although it reflects an underlying economic reality, they don't fully capture the changing creative landscape.

Therefore, there is a need to update these classifications, in line with these changes, and bearing in mind the fact that an increasing number of industries are embracing creativity as a way of gaining a competitive advantage.

Clearly, the most interesting finding is that currently there are more occupations outside of the creative industry that use creativity as part of their role. This wasn't captured by the original DCMS' classification.

At the same time, there are many occupations in the previous DCMS' classification that don't have a strong creative component despite the fact that they are part of the creative industry.

Defining a Creative Occupation

It's important to define what a creative occupation is. According to Nesta's baseline, this concept can be broken down into a set of five criteria:

  • The role solves a problem or achieves a goal in new ways.
  • There is not a mechanical substitute to do the work.
  • An interplay of factors, skills, creative impulsive and learning occurs each time the occupation takes place.
  • The outcome of the occupation is new or creative despite the context in which it is produced.
  • The role involves a degree of creative judgement and interpretation.

The Creative Results: what the results tell us?

The research shows that some of the occupations that DCMS classified as 'creative' have a low intensity of creativity within the role, whereas some other jobs outside the creative industry have a high level of creativity within the role.

In 2010, almost 2.5 million people were employed in the UK's creative economy, of which 1.3 million worked in the creative industries.

Creatively-occupied jobs (that include specialist jobs which involve a creative role within a creative industry and embedded jobs which are creative roles in the non-creative industry) are clearly a dynamic and growing part of the economy. They grew by 9% from 2004-2010 compared with 1.6% for the workforce as a whole and 1.1% for the non-creatively occupied jobs.

According to Nesta's baseline, it is estimated that creative economy employment is now a highly significant and growing component of the UK workforce as a whole, accounting for 8.7% of it by 2010, compared with 8.4% in 2004. This is five times the growth rate of the non-creative workforce.

Nesta also estimates that a good amount of creative workers are employed outside the creative industries in the wider creative economy.

In fact, from the 2,495,700 jobs in creative economy employment, 1,138,400 are creative jobs outside of the creative industries.

Based on this, some of the jobs that Nesta consider to involve a high level of creativity within the role that weren't considered in DCMS' previous classification include:

  • Marketing and sales directors
  • Software professionals
  • Librarians
  • Archivist and curators

Final Thoughts

Nesta's research shows that the creative industries are a clearly recognisable economic reality in the UK. They bring together a good combination of creative skills within a set of industries characterised by the high intensity with which they use these skills.

The organisation believes this document is only the first step in a process that should lead to a clearer analytical definition of the current creative industries.

If it's true that creativity is an increasingly important and crucial component of so many jobs today even outside the creative industry, there is even more need for young people and children to be able to develop their creativity from an early age.

Download Dynamic mapping of Uk creative industries (1.62 MB Pdf)