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Starting a career in the creative industry – insights from Artswork’s Breakthrough programme

Date Created: 6th Jun 2024

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A recent study in the UK has shown that a third of young adults want to work in creative industries, but only one in four are informed about careers in the sector at school. 

Research conducted by Ravensbourne University London found that young people are shying away from creative careers due to a lack of knowledge about the available roles, as well as a perception that the industry is hard to enter. At Artswork, we are working to break down these barriers that young people face in accessing knowledge about the creative industries.  

Our Breakthrough programme is an initiative aimed at giving young people aged 16-25 the opportunity to step into the creative industry and find meaningful employment. 

The Breakthrough programme is a paid 6-month (26 weeks) training and work-based learning programme run by our team at Artswork. This year’s Breakthrough programme will run from 23 September 2024 to 28 March 2025. The young person’s wage, employer NI contributions, and auto-enrollment pension contributions are covered by Artswork’s funding from Arts Council England, along with additional training to support their confidence and professionalism in the workplace. Employer just need to contribute the first £1500 and any IT equipment. In 2023, 100% of Breakthrough trainees reported an increase in confidence. 


 “Finding jobs within the arts seems to be getting harder. Being given the opportunity to work in an open and creative space is so important, and having room to evolve is vital as a creative. The Breakthrough programme gives opportunities to have your voice as a young person heard in creative spaces.”

-Chevonne, Breakthrough 2023 trainee (Horsebridge Arts, Kent) 

Breakthrough has helped young people become aware of the diverse roles available in the industry. Last year, 93% of the young trainee claimed that they expanded their understanding of the creative industries. Hashim, Breakthrough 2023 trainee (Ark-T, Oxford) said: “The Breakthrough programme has opened my eyes to the other jobs I can do. There are possibilities and opportunities that I hadn’t even considered before. I feel I have matured through the programme and can now do things I wouldn’t have even considered a year ago.” 

Additionally, 65% of the Breakthrough trainees from 2023 now have jobs in the creative sector or have been accepted onto a related course. 

“I think it’s been hugely beneficial – I don’t think that the charity I worked for would have taken on a young person without this programme. At the time, they did not have the funding, and it gave them a chance to try taking on a young person without any risk. Now, they are keeping me! This is my first job ever. I had the benefit of so much support, and I don’t think many people get that opportunity.” 

-Evie, Breakthrough 2023 participant (Independent Arts, Isle of Wight) 

The majority of our trainees also gained skills in collaboration, time management, public speaking, as well as digital design and illustration. They reported that their professionalism improved and that they learned to take effective and concise minutes. Breakthrough is not only an opportunity for young people, but it also gives employers the chance to infuse fresh, new perspectives and an all-important youth voice into their teams, in exchange for giving talented young people the initial steps towards a rewarding creative career.  

In 2023, 95% of employers saw measurable benefits from Breakthrough. “It has been very helpful and timely for us to have a young person joining our team. They provided a fresh perspective, and because our work has taken on opportunities to support more young people, we decided to employ our candidate at our own cost (funded via grants) for a further 12-month contract.” 

When asked if they would recommend Breakthrough to others, 100% of employers said yes. “This is an opportunity that benefits both the organisation and the young person. You give a young person a chance to experience working in the creative sector – this means they might view working in the sector differently moving forward. From an organisational perspective, you get the opportunity to have the voice of a young person on board and the financial output is very little. This makes it more affordable than it might have otherwise been.” 

The success stories from our 2023 Breakthrough trainees highlight the programme’s impact, with many trainees securing jobs or further educational opportunities in the creative sector. As we look forward to Breakthrough 2024, we remain committed to embracing diverse young voices as we believe all young people have potential – they just need opportunity to prove it.  

If you’re an employer and interested in this year’s Breakthrough programme, click here for more info.  

This programme is supported using public funding from Arts Council England 

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