Skills gap in Cardiff creative industry calls for connectivity

For the fast-paced creative industry, what are the vital skills needed by Cardiff’s creative graduates and freelance workforce?

Pauline Burt, Ffilm Cymru Wales, Susan Cummings, Tiny Rebel Games, Karen Higgins, Welsh Government, Professor Justin Lewis, Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Culture and Professor Ruth McElroy, University of South Wales. Photo by Ben Rice

Finding and connecting skilled workers is the biggest problem facing Wales’s creative industry, according to a panel discussion by a creative think tank.

A range of creative practitioners, support agencies and academics were speaking at a BBC Digital Cities panel discussion, looking at the titled Mind the Gap: Skills Development for Cardiff’s Creatives.

According to Mel Rodrigues, the event producer at BBC Academy, “We spoke to a lot of the people who were involved in the industry in Cardiff , and the big issues here were the skills gap so how you retain people in the city and how you give them the right skills.”

BBC Digital Cities Cardiff runned a series of free workshops, masterclasses and socials for the creative industries at the end of February.

Susan Cummings, founder of Tiny Rebel Games, shared her experience in video game industry. She says: “The biggest challenges is finding people…since the talent is already here!”

Over the last 20 years, Wales has become the fastest growing UK digital sector outside London, and Cardiff a hotspot for creative skills. Creative Industries became one of the Welsh Governments nine priority sectors for economic growth. According to the 2016 Welsh government sector priority statistics there are 53000 people working in the creative industry, with 40% of freelancer workforces are self-employed.

Paulin Burt from Fflims Cymru Wales, the sole Agency for film in Wales, also says: “There are also many freelancers, the challenge is to make sure they are connected.

“Our sector is a very face to face thing, having networking activities to bring all the elements together helps to keep an eye on what are needed in terms of trainings and skills.”

Professor Justin Lewis, from Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Culture, says the Creative Cardiff has been working on mapping the creative sectors and freelancers in Cardiff. He also pointed out: “Identifying the required skills and trainings are important, but link them to the freelancer communities through net-working activities are more important.”

They concluded co-working spaces and hubs are key to providing somewhere for freelancers to spend time, meet, and connect with others.

Mel Rodrigues says after the panel: “I really hope this event helps people make connections they didn’t have already. As we were hearing tonight this industry is still a very face to face thing, you will get opportunities ideas, new projects no collaborations through meeting each other and have discussions.”

For more information about the creative industry in Cardiff, visit: Creative Cardiff