Our thoughts on creating more apprenticeship opportunities for small music businesses

At the end of January, the Creative Industries Skills Council endorsed a Skillset report into improving the skills of people working in the creative industries. We think it’s a great report, and hope to play a part in turning into reality some of the recommendations that Skillset have since been asked to lead work on action. These include:

Creating an online professional learning network for employers and individuals, implementing sector-wide management and leadership programmes and establishing virtual boards of experienced professionals to provide support and guidance to start-ups and small creative companies.

• Reforming the ICT syllabus in schools, so that computer science, arts and/or a creative subject are included in the National Curriculum as core subjects, and English Baccalaureate options.

• Establishing a single careers resource for the creative industries.

• Developing group apprenticeship approaches should be developed for creative media as well as fashion and textile industries, allowing groups of employers to take on apprentices collectively.

Those of you who know us will already know that much of what we’re passionate advocates for small music businesses and sole traders, and try to influence policy whenever we can. We’re really encouraged by the report and hope to work with Creative & Cultural Skills to action some of these recommendations, not least because it picks up on some of the ideas we’re currently developing at the hub and that in the past we’ve recommended to them.

The creation of the online professional learning network not only mirrors what we’re planning to do with our Joining the Dots network, which will (subject to a last fundraising push!) provide networking and skills development support for upwards of 1000 individuals across the music sector; it will also help us to link up members of the network and the learning that comes out of it to the wider creative industries sector. And given the programme’s called Joining the Dots that’s – excuse the pun – music to our ears.

We were also pleased to see the report recommend more group-based approaches to offering apprenticeships. For several years we’ve lobbied CC Skills about this, knowing that the costs and other practicalities of offering creative apprenticeships were simply beyond most small music businesses and sole traders, and that as a result potentially hundreds of apprenticeship offers were being squandered. In 2006 we proposed piloting such a scheme via the Own Industry network we were involved in setting up in the East Midlands, but it was something that in the very early days of music sector apprenticeships seemed beyond either CC Skills’ comprehension or resources. Frustratingly, the idea got filed in our ‘ones that got away’ box.

Now, however, we’ve dusted it down, and after a really good meeting with CC Skills a couple of weeks ago are hoping to work with them to get more small music businesses involved in delivering apprenticeships. It’s a no brainer – small groupings of music businesses come together to offer an apprenticeship, increasing their ability to deliver, bringing new skills and ideas into their teams and strengthening relationships with peer organisations locally. Meanwhile, the apprentice develops new skills, becomes part of not just one company network but potentially three or four, gets access to formal and on the job learning and gets a fantastic overview of how different parts of the music sector work and fit together. What’s not to like?

We think this could be a great add on to our Joining the Dots programme. If you’d be interested in finding out more about Joining the Dots, about being involved – either as an employer or an apprentice – and/or helping us to work up the programme, sign up to our mailing list .