Do you love art or creative writing? Is sport the centre of your universe? Or perhaps you spend your free time immersed in gaming?
These areas of your life might seem like the dessert to a main course of academic subjects at school, but opportunities to pursue your passions post 16 and 18 have never been better.
The creative industries - including film and TV, gaming, performing arts, museums and galleries - are worth about £116 billion to the UK economy and are some of the fastest-growing sectors.
From the BBC, Sky, Netflix, Apple TV+ and Prime Video to Hollywood film studios, the expertise of British crews have brought in billions of pounds of investment.
“There were three million jobs in the UK creative industries in 2021,” said Professor Stephen Felmingham, pro-vice chancellor at Arts University Plymouth.
“The world has changed and the choice of an arts career is now a real, exciting and rewarding decision for young people.”
Over the next decade there will be a huge demand for workers with a blend of digital and creative skills
Interest in the creative industries is booming despite - rather than because of - the school curriculum, according to a recent House of Lords communications and digital committee report.
It highlights a major decline in the uptake of design and technology GCSEs and blames the EBacc school performance measure, which sidelines certain subjects.
The report also takes aim at the Government’s “lazy rhetoric about ‘low value’ arts courses”.
“Over the next decade there will be a huge demand for workers with a blend of digital and creative skills,” peers on the committee said. “The Department for Education needs to wake up to this reality.”
London in particular presents young people with a plethora of opportunities to pursue their creative passions.
Backed by production company Working Title Films, which was behind Notting Hill, About a Boy, The Snowman and the Bridget Jones film series, the London Screen Academy is a state sixth form where students specialise in behind the camera skills and learn about storytelling.
Teenagers at the oversubscribed school work on a project-based curriculum with expert and industry input and collaboration. Students develop, write, direct, shoot and edit their own productions, design and build their own sets and props and do their own costumes, hair and make-up.
Many students go straight into industry, working for production companies, studios and post houses. Eight trainees are working on Steve McQueen’s next feature, the World War II-set Blitz, for instance.
Others undertake further study at university (all LSA students take at least one A-level) or enter apprenticeships or other industry training schemes.
“The good thing about our world at the moment is that there are more opportunities than ever before,” said Charlie Kennard, LSA principal. “It’s a really amazing time.”
In response to the rapid growth of the creative sector, Access Creative College is opening a brand-new, state-of-the art campus in Whitechapel for gaming, esports, music, media and computing this September, with a plethora of programmes for 16 to 18-year-olds.
There is a dedicated esports classroom featuring competition wings, a multi-functional event venue and a live music suite fitted with innovative recording studios, rehearsal rooms and production pods.
Apprenticeship opportunities in the arts are growing. By September, about 23 apprentices will be working at the Royal Opera House (ROH) in Covent Garden -its largest ever cohort.
Its highly sought after programme aims to improve diversity as well as fill the skills gap in a range of careers that many young people might not associate with the theatre. “We have an armoury, a shoe department, hats and jewellery department and costume making workrooms,” said Sarah Waterman, ROH apprenticeships and work experience manager.
“Then there are the skills needed to produce huge scenic pieces, skills for flying and automation, lighting and venue technicians. It’s about getting the message across that these apprenticeships are not just ‘artsy’ careers.
“There are opportunities in engineering, carpentry, metal work, event management for instance, and all these are transferrable skills.”
Opportunities for young people in sport are also booming. The industry is worth £23.8 billion to the UK economy and accounts for nearly a million jobs.
The 1,500 undergraduates at the University Campus of Football Business, based at Wembley Stadium, hope to feed into that success.
Studying a range of degrees in football and sports business, law and management, coaching, psychology, media and communications, students go on to a range of careers.
Recent alumni have gone on to work in events planning at The Football Association, business management at the International Professional Scouting Organisation, marketing at Tottenham Hotspur FC, performance analysis at Liverpool FC Academy, coaching at Watford FC and social media at Sky Sports.
“London is the football capital of the world,” said UCFB student Conor Walsh. “Living in London, being able to see the Wembley Arch was always a source of inspiration in the morning. Once you’ve entered in those doors at Wembley Stadium, it’s an awe-inspiring place to be.”
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