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Skilled migration and the UK’s creative industries

This report argues that to support the growth of the creative industries, we need to ensure that the UK is able to access talent from outside of Europe.

Given the current uncertainty around European migration, this report argues that to support the growth of the creative industries, we need to do all we can to ensure that the UK is able to access talent from outside of Europe.

Key findings

  • 55.5 per cent and 45.5 per cent of jobs in the creative industries that are not done by UK workers, are filled by European and non-EEA migrants respectively.
     

  • In some creative sub-sectors the number of non-European migrants outnumbers those from Europe, for instance in IT, software and computer services.
     

  • In other creative sub-sectors, like Music, Arts, TV, Film, Publishing and Architecture, we see that non-EEA migrants make up a disproportionately low number of workers compared to their European and UK colleagues, which is consistent with the possibility that there is a demand for UK creative workers in these particular areas due to their understanding of UK culture, or that the UK is doing a better job than its international competitors in training the talent needed to fill jobs in these sub-sectors.

The creative industries are an important driver of UK economic growth and should feature prominently in the government’s industrial strategy. But their continued growth requires creative talent. The UK cannot meet the whole of the creative industries’ talent needs, so firms must recruit from overseas. The UK’s decision to leave the EU will make it all the more important that it can recruit skilled talent from outside Europe.

The UK’s migration policy system, though not specifically tailored for creative migrants, currently offers a number of routes for workers from outside of Europe. These routes are complex, however. With greater uncertainties about EU migrant workers in the creative industries, the UK needs to review how it can make it easier for UK creative businesses to meet their skilled migrant talent needs from outside Europe.

Authors

Juan Mateos-Garcia, George Windsor, Hasan Bakhshi

Authors

Juan Mateos-Garcia

Juan Mateos-Garcia

Juan Mateos-Garcia

Head of Innovation Mapping

Juan is the head of innovation mapping at Nesta. There, he leads a team of data scientists, developers, visualisers and innovation experts working in projects using new datasets, ana...

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Hasan Bakhshi

Hasan Bakhshi

Hasan Bakhshi

Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics

Hasan leads Nesta's creative and digital economy policy and research.

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George Windsor

George Windsor

George Windsor

Senior Policy Researcher

George was a Senior Policy Researcher in the Creative and Digital Economy team.

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