Workforce survey calls for fairer access to creative media industries

Creative Skillset’s Workforce Survey finds that 56% of the creative media workforce found their current position through informal networks.

  • More than half of respondents found their current job through informal recruitment methods (56% in 2014; up 10% since 2010)
  • 48% have done unpaid work at some point in their career
  • Just 1% of the creative media workforce came through an apprenticeship route
  • Only half of respondents had received training in the 12 months prior to survey
  • Almost three quarters (74%) of freelancers experienced barriers to training compared to 55% of permanent employees
  • Numbers of people with disabilities in the creative media industries has remained static for 12 years at 5% against 11% across the wider working population
  • 78% of all the creative media workforce are now graduates  
  • Over half  (51%) of these graduates hold a creative/media degree  
  • 14% of respondents attended an independent/fee-paying school (compared to 7% in the wider workforce) 

Creative Skillset’s Workforce Survey, published today, finds that over half (56%) of the creative media workforce found their current position through informal networks, whilst unpaid work periods (48%) are still common in the creative media industries. Download the Workplace Survey as a PDF.

This is the largest survey of individuals working in the creative media industries, comprising 5,000 respondents in TV, animation, digital, games, VFX, radio, facilities, film production and cinema exhibition. It provides real insight into the recruitment, working patterns, training needs, pay and socio-economic backgrounds of those working in the sectors.

Dinah Caine CBE, Chief Executive of Creative Skillset said; "If our industries are to prosper, grow and reflect the markets they work in they need to up their game, open up paid entry routes and ensure that freelancers in particular are able to access affordable training and development."

With only 1% of the workforce having undertaken an apprenticeship, and unpaid internships and traineeships still too prevalent, a lot more needs to be done to provide a visible range of paid career paths and opportunities for new talent to enter the creative industries.

Of those already in the industries, only half of all respondents had received any training in the 12 months prior to survey. 74% of freelancers, a third of the creative media workforce, experienced barriers to training (compared to 55% for permanent employees).

“The evidence from the survey is clear. If our industries are to prosper, grow and reflect the markets they work in they need to up their game, open up paid entry routes and ensure that freelancers in particular are able to access affordable training and development. In addition, we are urging companies to register on Hiive and post job opportunities that might otherwise have been limited to a chosen few.”

Over three quarters of respondents across the industries (78%) are educated to degree level*, the highest level since the survey began and more than double the average for the wider UK working population. Of these, over half are creative/media graduates (a figure that has more than doubled since 2003), showing that higher education and the creative industries are now working together in a more effective way.

The survey found that the proportion of people with disabilities has remained static at 5%, less than half that of the UK working population (11%). 14% of respondents attended an independent/fee-paying school (versus 7% for the UK population). 7% of the workforce identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bi-sexual (versus 6% for the UK population).

Notes to editors

Creative Skillset empowers the Creative Industries to develop skills and talent. It does this by influencing and shaping policy, ensuring quality and by securing the vital investment for individuals to become the best in their field and for businesses to grow. As the industry skills body for the Creative Industries, it works across film, television, radio, fashion, animation, games, visual effects, textiles, publishing, advertising, marketing communications and performing arts.

Creative Skillset's Creative Media Workforce Survey was undertaken between October and December 2014, consisting of almost 5,000 people across the creative media industries. There are separate reports for the following industries: TV, Radio, Games, Animation, VFX, Film Production, and Cinema exhibition.

For infographics of key statistics, please click on the thumbnails below:

Sector specific reports are also available for TV, animation, games, VFX, radio, film production and cinema exhibition. For more information, please email

Find previous workplace surveys on our Research page.

Hiive, the professional network for creative people, powered by Creative Skillset and launched in March, is the perfect place for new and established talent to showcase their skills, gain opportunities and connect with industry.

The Creative Skillset Tick is the quality mark awarded to courses that produce work ready graduates and apprentices.

Creative Skillset’s Creative Industries Workplace Guidelines (PDF) give guidance for employers offering Work Placement Schemes in the Creative Industries.

* 83% of the BAME creative media workforce and 81% of women are educated to degree level.

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