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Creative futures: why are you not getting hired?

Dom Davenport, Created CEO

We talk to our CEO Dom Davenport about the employment crisis faced by both creative companies and graduates in the 21st century and ask him what can be done to resolve it.

Dom Davenport

For those who haven’t heard of Created, how would you describe the business in a few words?

Created develop and deliver creative education courses, in partnership with some of the UK’s top creative companies, based on their employment needs.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and why you started Created?

I started out as an artist working in the field of VFX and animation. I founded Escape Studios in 2002, Escape Technology in 2005 and the VFX Festival in 2011. I also developed degree programs as part of Pearson College and in collaboration with the University of Kent.

I founded Created after seeing first hand the struggles of educators and businesses working with creativity because the current education system isn’t meeting their needs. Even though there is a big demand for creatives, many are not getting hired because they’re not equipped for the world of work. They need professional, practical and personal skills to succeed, not just the technical skills they are currently taught.

So Created exists, to give creatives a bridge into the industry by offering courses that are developed and run with the UK’s top creative companies, to develop exactly the new type of Creatives that industry wants to hire.

Can you tell us more about the demand for creatives and the skills gap in the market?

Since 2012, employment in the creative industries grew by 24%, compared to growth of just 6.3% in the wider UK economy. It’s the fastest growing sector of the economy and employs three million people, which is 9% of all UK jobs.

Skills-shortage vacancies are up by 43% in the same period, with increased recruitment from overseas (up to 34% in London) and with Brexit imminent, more companies will be looking to recruit UK based creatives due to increased outsourcing costs. You can read more about the skills gap here based on research from Nesta, an international innovation foundation based in the UK.

So the jobs are there, but not being filled because the applicants are not meeting the needs of the businesses? Must be pretty frustrating all round?

There are thousands of Creatives that will be wondering why they are not getting the jobs they desire, when they have a degree, good technical skills and a decent portfolio, essentially everything they thought they would need to get a great job in their field. What they don’t have though is the human skills that these jobs demand. Given that they didn’t learn these skills after studying for years, you can imagine how frustrating this would be.

It’s also equally frustrating for the creative companies, who have the need and desire to fill these roles. They know that lots of talented creative people have applied for these jobs but also know that they’re lacking the vital characteristics to perform the role to the standard that is required. They then in many cases have to recruit from overseas which leads to a delay in filling the roles and in most cases leads to extra expense.

So what is Created doing to solve these problems and address these frustrations?

I would say that our key contribution is that we are developing courses for students in partnership with the very companies that they want to work for. Therefore we are addressing the issues head-on.

Our New Creative Curriculum is designed specifically to prepare creatives for the world of work, by developing the exact skills our partners (their future employers) find lacking in the majority of applicants.

You’ve partnered with some really interesting companies. How did these partnerships come about and how heavily are these companies involved?

We’re currently working with a range of companies all with a passion for motion design. Each company has a very individual approach which allows the students to experience a range of ways of working that simulate the real world. From working as a freelancer with a brand, to taking direction from an experienced Director, the creatives will be grounded in the realities of the working world and supported throughout by our learning resources, mentors and coaches.

Our partners were involved in creating a profile of the ideal candidate, from which we have created all of the learning materials and projects to meet that need. They have designed briefs for the students to work on that mirror their own ways of working and will give feedback on the work the students create. This way we’re able to get as close to the real world and immerse our creatives in a unique experience very few people will have the opportunity to be a part of during the course of their career.

What can you tell us about your team at Created, as well as other people involved with the business?

Our learning designers, coaches and mentors come from some of the UK’s leading creative companies including the BBC, Google, ITV, Amazon and D&AD.

Our admissions and marketing team have worked with some of the UK’s leading education organisations including Mastered, the University Of East Anglia and London South Bank University and our advisory board includes the CEO of Framestore, the former Director of Apple Education in Europe and the chairman of London Metropolitan University.

What’s next for Created in the near future?

We are developing two brand new courses which will launch in early 2020, to run alongside our successful motion design course. This will also allow us to forge even more exciting partnerships with the UK’s top creative companies.

For any creatives reading this article who share the frustrations you’ve mentioned, what are three key bits of advice you would give to them?

Firstly, it’s never too late to learn. Even though you may not have the skills right now to get the job you really want, it’s never that far out of reach. For instance, our courses are part-time and last nine months, so people can learn while they’re still working, meaning they don’t have to drastically change their lives to get where they would like to be.

Secondly, learn how to collaborate and work with others properly. In most creative projects, there will be lots of people involved (clients, account handlers, designers, animators, creative directors etc) and everyone will have their own opinions and ways of working. How you communicate and handle these interactions is key to building relationships that may last your whole career. Collaboration is one of the key elements that we focus on during our courses.

Lastly, get yourselves out there. The more you interact with like-minded people, the more opportunities you will create for yourself and the more you will learn and grow as a person. There are some great networking groups for Creatives in the UK, some of which we have covered in a previous article, so get reading and get mingling!

If you’d like to find out more about our next course in motion design, you can check out the course page here.

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