Creative Industries

As a pivotal part of the UK post-pandemic economic recovery, the creative industries are expected to generate an extra £28 billion for the economy by 2025 and in doing so generate 300,000 more industry jobs. This briefing acts as a landing page for those seeking guidance on the various sectors and careers that fall within the Creative Industries.

What are the Creative Industries?

The term ‘creative industries’ refers to those businesses which have their origin in individual creativity and where creativity is at the core of what they do. Whilst there is no concrete list of which sub-sectors fall within the definition of ‘creative industries’ the following 12 sub-sectors are typically considered to do so.


We have created separate briefing pages for those sub-sectors that are popular with our students. These include the following:

In addition to the above, the following fall within the remit of the creative industries. You can find more about these below:

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Architects design buildings, extensions, and the landscape and spaces around them. They can also work on the restoration and conservation of existing structures.

Types of jobs

Typical jobs include Architect, Architectural Technologist and Historic Building Inspector/Conservation Officer. Employers can vary, from local or central government to commercial and industrial organisations, although most qualified architects work for private practises, construction companies or property development firms.

Entry points and finding a job

The typical route to becoming an architect involves five years studying at university, followed by completion of practical experience for two years. Alternative routes include studying whilst working in architectural practice through RIBA Studio or through the new apprenticeship route.

Gaining experience

Gaining experience within the Architectural industry is very competitive. Nevertheless, it is vital that candidates gain experience to work within the field.  Undertaking work experience, work shadowing or an internship within an architectural, construction or design setting will be highly regarded when it comes to recruitment.

Useful resources

For many areas of the craft world it can prove challenging to make a substantial income, as the labour cost in learning and making each piece can outstrip the sale price of some media. However, 5.6 million pieces of craft were sold in England in the past year, representing a larger market than that for visual art.

Those that do make a successful career in craft often also run workshops, negotiate arrangements for regular commissioned pieces or develop good networks with stockists and customers for their products.  Craft ‘apprenticeships’ (formally or informally) are often used to pass on skills for a growing craft business.

Generally craft skills are learnt through specific short courses, or through tuition or shadowing from a professional who currently practises those skills. Further information on courses, apprenticeships, jobs and studio space is available from the Crafts Council.

For information on historic building conservation, consider the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the National Heritage Training Group. Both organisations detail opportunities to develop your craft skills in an employment context and may be of particular interest to architects, archaeologists, history students and those interested in craft and conservation.

Useful resources

As well as developing your work and techniques, it’s advisable to begin building your understanding of the industry. Work experience, work shadowing or voluntary work – at galleries, private collections, design collectives, design agencies or similar – can help furnish you with greater awareness and contacts. Proactively creating opportunities to show your work is advisable, and developing ways to raise awareness of your work online is important.

To gain work and commissions, you might want to see our resources for ‘Creative CVs’.  To see more of what employers are looking for, check out ‘The Ideal Candidate’ – a collection of 28 interviews with organisations that hire designers. There is also an infographic on entry points and career trajectories for designers.

Further study

Formal training and qualifications are common amongst those who work professionally in the field, although individuals with lots of talent but no qualifications can also emerge. In fine art, there is an approximate correlation between higher prices and the artist’s qualifications. Investigate further study options using Prospects Postgraduate Study webpages.

Useful resources

The Fashion Industry is a varied and competitive sector. Fashion design is just one area that you might choose to focus on, but it is important to remember that the industry is huge and there are many different roles that you can get involved in.

Types of jobs 

The fashion industry comprises a range of roles across a number of different fields, including design, HR, manufacturing, marketing and promotion, and retail. For instance, designers and sketching assistants work within design. The manufacturing field includes roles such as seamstress, tailor, and textile worker. The marketing and promotion field includes photographers, models, and stylists, as well as those working within PR and advertising. The retail sales field includes the roles of buyer, merchandise planner, salesperson, and retail manager. You might also be interested in fashion journalism. Look at the Art and Design Employability blog for ideas. 

Entry point and finding a job

Whilst some positions will require you to have a degree or training within fashion, remember that many employers will accept applications from graduates with any degree subject. They will just require that you demonstrate that you have the skills and interest needed to be successful within the industry.

Gaining experience

Gaining work experience within a fashion and design organisation is important. Whilst many of these will be advertised on the companies websites, you could also directly contact fashion houses, designers, department and other retail stores and supermarket fashion labels to ask for work experience. In addition, networking is crucial to build up your network and relationships with those in the industry.

Useful Resources

Roles within performing arts can be either performance based (actor, circus performer, dancer, musician etc.) or non-performance based (set designer, sound technician, talent agent etc.) Whichever route you decide, you can be sure to use your creativity and technical ability.

Types of jobs

Most performance-based roles will be on a freelance or fixed term basis. It is therefore important to consider if this is something you can cope with. Moreover, as you establish your career, there might be long periods of time between jobs where you will be auditioning and prepared to take on work even when it’s not your ideal job. Resilience for the industry is key.

Non-performance based roles are typically more likely to be permanent contracts, however, the industry is still extremely competitive, and you might need to take on short term/fixed term contracts as your build your experience.

Entry points and finding a job

Performance roles

Whilst it can happen and by no means impossible, it is rare that you will just be discovered and become a successful performer. Therefore, it is important to gain relevant experience. Whilst not essential to become a performer, undertaking further study at a performing arts school can be extremely valuable for gaining further experience, training, and exposure to industry professionals such as agents.  For more information on performing arts training, see our Acting briefing page which provides a general overview of attending a performing arts school.

Eventually, you may need an agent to represent you. To find an agent, it’s advisable to make a list of agencies operating in your region and research them to see if they are well equipped to support the kind of work you want to do. Use recommendations from other performers too, and then make a targeted approach to a well-chosen shortlist. Remember to include:

  • Professional acting headshots (black and white and colour, theatrical and commercial).
  • Your CV, tailored specifically to acting which includes an image of you, a list of acting credits, as well as information on your skills, accents, role playing ages, height and so on, plus your training or acting classes.
  • Details of your Equity membership and Spotlight membership.
  • Showreel (or ‘demo reel’), which is a short piece of video or film footage showcasing your work.

Whilst it can be harder to obtain an audition without an agent, you can attend open auditions without one. The Stage often posts details of open auditions that you can attend. Open Auditions UK also provide a list of performance roles/auditions that do not require an agent for you to attend.

Non-performance roles

Competition for these roles can be high, so relevant experience is vital. Most people need to start in an entry level position, often as an intern or a ‘runner’ for example. To gain this initial experience, think about advertised internships and short-term seasonal jobs which can provide you with great experience. In addition, both paid an unpaid role such as work staffing festivals and events: front-of house or promotional work; support for tours can provide great experience.

Useful resources

General

Dance

Creative writing / script writing

Finding advertised work experience

There are advertised opportunities online (see the ‘External resources’ section of this guide), but to find great experiences you’ll often have to be more proactive and contact individuals and organisations to enquire further. You’ll notice that many opportunities aren’t internships but competitions, events, awards and other ways to gather experience (e.g. the ‘creative briefs’ you might see on Hiive). Sign up for alerts and emails from sites like this (and also CareerConnect) to keep up with new opportunities as they emerge.

There are many unpaid experiences out there. Read advice from Creative Toolkit published by BECTU, the media and entertainment trade union. Even if you decide to take unpaid work, you should know the guidelines that are published to support National Minimum Wage legislation. To find out if you are entitled to be paid when undertaking work experience or an internship, visit the Government’s webpages on the National Minimum Wage.

10 tips to proactively build experience

  1. Get involved in groups, societies, shows and showcases in Oxford or your home region
  2. No society or group? Start one; outside ideas and feedback help you develop
  3. Research college alumni and industry figures who you could contact for advice or talks
  4. Speculatively contact organisations (see ‘Useful websites’) for experience opportunities
  5. Keep in contact with useful people that you meet (e.g. on LinkedIn)
  6. Tell people about what you do. “I am a _____” is a powerful phrase
  7. Volunteer to support other artists’ projects for insight and perhaps a favour in return
  8. Create some projects just for you which will help you develop your work
  9. Try to get press coverage/recording for your events, ask for permission to use it yourself
  10. Create an online presence for your work: use websites/blogs/social media/crowdsourcers: make sure it’s easy for anyone to know what you do, see examples and contact you

Getting a Job

Word of mouth

The Creative Skillset research survey found that 23% of those in the creative media sector found their first job through word of mouth, and so confidence connecting with people in the industry is vital. See our guide to networking, and develop your self-marketing online.

Website searching

Make sure to set up alerts and saved searches on a number of relevant opportunity websites (see our ‘External Resources’) section.

You’ll see that a few websites, particularly ‘casting call’ sites and similar, charge applicants to apply to vacancies that are listed there. This is a reality of the industry, unfortunately, but you don’t need to sign up to all of them! Start with the free ones, and try ‘free trials’ on some others to decide if it’s worth it for you.

Bear in mind that vacancies are likely to attract high numbers of applicants, and your application materials will need to be competitive.

Creative CVs

CVs for the creative sector often look very different to a traditional CV, with a focus on providing opportunities to showcase your talent. See our resources for ‘Creative CVs’.

Freelancing and entrepreneurship

Often, creative professionals will find that they’re self-employed, invoicing other people for their work as they win opportunities/business. You may want to read our guides to Freelancing and Entrepreneurship to learn more.

Portfolio careers

Many in the sector take some form of other work which allows them to pursue their creative ambitions as well as providing some financial stability.

Consider what kind of supporting role(s) might:

  • Allow you time to pursue your artistic ambitions
  • Provide skills or networks that might help you in your work
  • Be satisfying work, relating to your interests/skills/values
  • Support your backup career plan

Useful websites for everyone

Creative bodies & information sites

Funding

Whether you need support to undertake further training, for lessons/instruments/equipment or to enable your career development, there are a few specialist charities and trusts which support artistic endeavours with funding ranging from a few hundred pounds, up to a few thousand.  There may also be support from your college while you’re here at Oxford, either from your JCR/MCR or via competitions or grants. It’s also a good idea to research scholarships and grants from the course provider or from your relevant union or professional association. You might also be interested in this list of Trusts and Foundations offering financial support for the arts:

Social media

  • LinkedIn groups, all free for anyone to join, include the CreativePool Network, Cultural and Performing Arts group, Creative Jobs group and many more…

Recruiters are keen to have a diverse workforce, and many will have policies and processes that are proactive in recruiting students and graduates from diverse backgrounds. An increasing number of recruiters are offering traineeships, internships and insight events that are aimed at specific groups and many are being recognised for their approach to being inclusive employers.

Try the following to discover more about the policies and attitudes of the recruiters that you are interested in:

The UK Equality Act 2010 has a number of protected characteristics to prevent discrimination due to your age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or beliefs, sex or sexual orientation. For further information, visit the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s webpage on the Equality Act and the Government’s webpages on discrimination.

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