ACE launches £15m national employment programme for young people

Geraldine Kendall, 12.09.2012
Scheme to fund up to 6,500 paid work placements
Arts Council England (ACE) has unveiled a new national employment programme to help young people find paid entry level work in the arts and cultural sector.

The Creative employment programme aims to provide young unemployed people with on-the-job training, skills and experience.

It will fund up to 6,500 new apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships and paid internships across the sector and is open to unemployed people aged 16-24, both graduate and non-graduate.

The arts council sees the programme as a key plank towards achieving greater workforce diversity and fairer entry routes, an aim set out in its ten-year plan, Achieving Great Art for Everyone.

ACE is currently accepting applications from organisations bidding to be the national provider for the programme. The successful applicant will receive up to £15m to deliver the programme until March 2015.

The national programme builds on the arts council’s two existing initiatives to provide fairer entry routes to young people, the Creative Jobs Programme and the Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme, enabling this work to be rolled out on a wider scale.

ACE’s executive director Andrea Stark said: “There is currently a skills shortage in the arts sector - more than a quarter of creative and cultural organisations have had difficulty in recruiting due to a lack of experience and skills in applicants.

“If young people cannot gain entry into the sector workforce we risk losing a generation of talent, which would potentially have an adverse impact on the art that is produced, distributed and attended by the wider population.

“This programme gives young people the opportunity to gain skills and experience that potential employers will value, removes the barrier of lack of paid work experience, and helps boost the start of their career in the sector.”

The Museums Association’s head of policy Maurice Davies welcomed the scheme, saying: “For some years the MA has been calling for a widening of entry routes into the museum workforce and this could be a very helpful step forward.”

The programme will run in England only.

Update
14.09.2012

This article was updated with the information that the programme will run only in England.

Comments

Sort by: Most recent - Most liked
Anonymous
16.10.2012, 00:16
This is completely disheartening. I am 22, educated to degree level, with 4 years of museums and galleries experience behind me. I will not qualify for this scheme because I am not unemployed. In retrospect, was I naive to think at 18 it was a good idea to volunteer, working my way through various visitor services departments at 5 of the major institutions in London?
I wholeheartedly agree with a previous comment about the disdain meted out on 'the security'. We are all talented, passionate and eager; institutions need to look to the pool of candidates already within - who have a wealth of knowledge about the mechanisms of their workplace.
It's not only the age range that may be an issue, it is also your employment status; I do not want to reach a point where I am sorry to have a job (that incidentally may be leading to a dead end).

How much foot needs to be in the door?
susan moore
Volunteer, Bruce Castle Museum
21.09.2012, 16:45
All good stuff, but why just young people ?
Anonymous
MA Member
19.09.2012, 23:22
I don't want to swim against the tide, but most of the people commenting on this announcement seem to think that someone (the government, society, the poor bleeding taxpayer, whoever) should supply a job with their name on to every arts grad who wants to work in a museum and guarantee an automatic career progression until they retire. Have we really become so detached from economic reality, society and government priorities that we can seriously believe that to be the case? It has never been the case and it never will. The museum sector is a cinderella and the ugly sisters are being particularly spiteful at the moment.

It's a damning indictment of the university sector and our schools that so many young people enter the workforce so unprepared. Once again the educational establishment has pulled a fast one on young learners. This scheme will be great for those who participate, but it will be the chosen few who benefit, the rest will be left to sink or swim. The swimmers will be the real achievers, the pioneers and the leaders in the future in the museum sector, not those who need a helping hand from the discriminating organs of the state.
Anonymous
24.09.2012, 13:52
Surely it is pretty clear from the correspondence so far that there is a surfeit of "real achievers, the pioneers and the leaders in the future in the museum sector" already qualified, experienced and raring to go. What is the point of adding thousands more candidates into this pool at great expense when that money could be used to support museums which are being forced to close through cuts in funding, thereby creating more jobs in the process?
Anthony Morgan
MA Member
Geologist, National Museums Liverpool
19.09.2012, 12:42
A very worthwhile scheme. I benefited from a similar scheme for unemployed graduates in the early 1980's however, my worry is this projects and the ACEs bias towards the Arts. The Creative Employement Programme website says that the focus is on the Arts Councils footprint of "music, dance, theatre, literature, visual arts, contemporary craft, combined arts, galleries, circus, carnival arts, museums and libraries". A slight bias towards the perfoming and visual arts there. Where is Science represented? After all the ACE now represents Science within museums and this is an area being neglected within the sector and where skills and knowledge are being lost, and where we need to encourage young people to take up careers.
Anonymous
18.09.2012, 12:28
There is one fundamental problem with the museum workforce that all other problems flow from: too many people, not enough jobs. And here's a scheme creating more people but not more permanent jobs.
Anonymous
18.09.2012, 12:19
There is one fundamental problem with the museum workforce that all other problems flow from: too many people, not enough jobs. And here's a scheme creating more people but not more permanent jobs.
Claire McDade
Director, Paxton Trust
14.09.2012, 12:14
Would be really helpful if it could be clarified early on in announcements such as these, that the programme only applies to England. I've just spent some time scrolling through various documents trying to find out if the programme is operational in Scotland. As far as I can see it isn't but if I am wrong could someone please let me know?
Thanks.
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
14.09.2012, 13:54
Apologies, the article has been updated with this information. According to ACE the programme will run in England only.
Claire McDade
Director, Paxton Trust
14.09.2012, 15:18
Thanks for confirming,
Claire
Tim Schadla-Hall
MA Member
Reader in Public Archaeology, University College London
13.09.2012, 17:28
I think that most of the comments are indeed spot on-more to the ppoint as Peta says- the point isnt to have the MA publicise this scheme -it is to ask why the MA hasnt attacked it - thus representing all those people who have paid to go on qualifying courses and who still languish without jobs!and who also pay to be MA members!
Maurice Davies
MA Member
Head of Policy & Communication, Museums Association
13.09.2012, 17:53
As I said below at 10.48, I don't condone some aspects of the proposal - but it has plently of good points, in particular, it opens up museum work to a wide range of people, so I can't see value in attacking it! At the Museums Association we support members at all stages of their museum careers though our CPD schemes, members' meetings, training events, publications and other resources. We have always encouraged museums to invest in their exisiting staff, as well as providing opportunities to new entrants. I recognise it's very tough for many people, but I don't think that can be attributed to this - or other - training schemes. We should adhere to principles of equality and not be protectionist. This means museum work should not be restricted only to those already in the sector in some way.
Michael Kirkby
Museum Assistant, North Lincolnshire Museums Service
13.09.2012, 18:50
So where is the equality for people already working in the sector? Why should they be made second rate to new people coming in? The best museums I have worked in are where people have worked their way up through departments and made contacts in the museum itself. How is it fair that someone with several years of experience in museum work be over looked by someone who has recently gained a degree in 'knowing not to drop historic objects or they might smash and be lost to eternity' from our good friends at Leicester?
Michael Kirkby
Museum Assistant, North Lincolnshire Museums Service
13.09.2012, 16:56
Whilst the encouragement of young people into the heritage sector is a brilliant idea, I also feel obliged to say that it also will make 'outcasts' of fully qualified museum professionals in their late 20's plus who are trying to climb the career ladder by any means.

I myself can attest first hand that this is not easy. Having gained my BA in Museum Management and MA in specialised subject my ambition was to one day become an education officer in a museum. My first musuem job was in a local country house in Lincolnshire but it was only a 6 month Museum Assistant role but great for getting a foot in the door.

I then got a full time visitor services job at a prestigious muuem in Oxford where I thought my dreams had come true of being able to make good contacts, and build a career for myself in museum education. WRONG! Myself and many of my colleagues in the visitor services team had the same level of qualifications, were interested in further qualifications either in collections or curatorship but because we were deemed 'lowly' visitor services plebs with no other function other than to point visitors to the toilets or restaurants, the other museum departments, looked down their noses at us and there was alot of ellitism and preferential treatment.

I left after only a year and now work in adult education and (not wanting to blow my own trumpet) but my wage now is higher than a Musuem Curator's which now makes it more difficult to go back into wanting to do a museum job as I know I would be on pittance.

My advice to museums would be 'don't overlook the staff you already have waiting in line to get their ideal jobs. Embrace their skills, talk to them, find out what hidden skills they could bring to your table.

Yes, hire young people looking for a job, but in the heritage industry (its a raw deal) but you must start your career getting shouted at by irate customers because you asked their child to not prod a £4 million painting with a lollipop...I digress... utilise the skills already available to you, don't push your current staff out or else they will end up embittered like me.'

And if you want to do collections or curator or education, be wary of starting in Visitor services....you may never progress. Harsh, but true.
Anonymous
MA Member
13.09.2012, 11:58
I am in my 30s with lots of experience and an MA Museum Studies, additional skills qualifications through CPD etc. etc. and have been made redundant like many others. I have found it almost impossible to find a new job either in the sector or outside. I have now taken on (like so many others) part time, short term, badly paid contract work because i need to pay the bills and I cling to the idea of staying within the sector if at all possible.

I do think that we need to encourage people to continue into the sector otherwise where will be in so many years time but I can't help but be sceptical about what we are setting up these paid interns/apprentices to do. With a lack of money in the sector which has pushed many people into unemployment, museums into limiting services or even closures and a real drop in wages of many of the jobs that are being advertised what kind of future are we presenting them with.
Maurice Davies
MA Member
Head of Policy & Communication, Museums Association
13.09.2012, 10:48
I wrote about people's difficulties in entering museum work and the progressing about 5 years ago in a report called the Tomorrow People, which you can find here:
http://www.museumsassociation.org/careers/13582
Sadly, things seem just as hard today as they did then. As eomeone over 50, I certainly don't condone the idea of limiting access to the scheme by age - but to be fair to ACE I expect the restriction is because because of wider policy considerations or government rules and regulations
Anonymous
MA Member
13.09.2012, 08:31
As someone in their 40s trying to move into the museums sector I second the comments below. I have masses of transferable skills, knowledge and experience and would be happy to do such an apprenticeship/internship if it would lead to employment. Why is it assumed that only school-leavers and graduates need help to enter the museum workforce? If diversity is a factor, then these positions should not be limited by age.
Anonymous
MA Member
12.09.2012, 22:13
I absolutely agree with the thread of comments below. I am 26, educated to degree level, with relevant internship and volunteering experience, working in a Front of House foot-in-the-door job, desperately seeking progression but with little opportunities to do so, and I know many people in this situation. Why have an age bracket at all in a scheme such as this? Reward those who already work hard for the sector by giving them a push up the ladder, regardless of age.
Anonymous
12.09.2012, 21:28
Elsewhere on the website we read: "The Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston is to shed 10 jobs following the loss of its Renaissance funding. Alex Walker, head of arts and heritage at Preston City Council, said: “We recognise that museums cannot be immune to the effects of the financial downturn. However I am very sorry that we will be losing valued and talented members of the workforce, from this museum and the others across the country which are losing posts.
"In the current climate some will find it difficult to find jobs and their knowledge and experience will be lost to the sector.”
How about helping these excellent people to find posts first, rather than lining up 6,500 more to suffer in the same way?

12.09.2012, 21:00
This is such a shame, yet again funding people looking to give a booster to young, inexperienced and possibly fickle (in terms of career direction) people. Here I am on a seasonal, first foot in the door job, with relevant degree and volunteering experience, not to mention transferable skills and life experience from other asoects of employment, desperately hoping for this type of opportunity where I can learn the skills, whilst earning so I can support my young family. I fail to see why the middling generation keeps getting passed over in favour of the popularist leg up for younger graduates. Why limit the age bracket at all? I would call on Maurice Davies to buck the trend and start promoting fairer recruitment criteria for these valuable career boosting internships! Looking at the previous comments, Mr Davies, you would be widening the net encompassing a wealth of highly passionate, and already well experienced, demographic.
Maurice Davies
MA Member
Head of Policy & Communication, Museums Association
13.09.2012, 10:50
Dear Peta Just to confirm, I'd welcome fairer recruitment criteria, but it's not me at the Museums Association who has made the rules about the scheme - you should address your concerns to the Arts Council
13.09.2012, 17:08
Thanks for taking the time to respond. Just to clarify, my comment was not a moan in your direction as you are not responsible for the decisions made by ACE! It was a call to you, however, to lend your support to the many people commenting here by using your position as Head of Policy at the MA to champion our concerns. I am indeed planning letters, not only to ACE, but also to the Director General of the company for whom I work. I've got a bit of fire in my belly on this subject! All the best, Peta Henley.
Anonymous
MA Member
12.09.2012, 20:20
Totally agree with all the comments here. Im 27, working in a low paid, seasonal, entry level job-and I've worked/studied/volunteered so hard to get there! I know so many others aged 25-35 in the same position-we deserve the chance to move up the ladder first before they train a younger generation. Doesn't make sense.
Anonymous
MA Member
12.09.2012, 16:14
It's an awful shame that it has to be limited to unemployed young people aged between 16-24, graduate of not.

Understanding that not every bracket could possibly be catered for in one project - considering it is aimed at the next generation and young people - what about those who are employed and volunteering within the arts and cultural sector? Or those over 24? What about those who have exerted high levels of interest and have tried to gain as much experience, but as a consequence of the credit crunch and the state of the economy have had to work in other sectors whilst finding internships and voluntary work. Yes, it is a scheme that is catering for the younger generation, but what is wrong with extending this to 30? Or to those who are working? Knowing full well that there are still those out there struggling to get into the sector or gain employable experience.

Something needs to be done about the lost generation, people of my age (26), who have been trying to get into the sector, through a variety of means since they have left university. There is a noticeable gap because there has been very little aid to those who have had to work in a variety of different sectors whilst trying to find employable experience within the past five years.

I suppose what I'm trying to say, is that its fair(ish) not fairer and makes it even harder for those who have done the above to gain employment in the sector, due to lacking experience in the sector that is 'employable'. Maybe entry level jobs should be created for all, not just for the unemployed or those under 24.
Anonymous
MA Member
12.09.2012, 18:29
I agree totally. I'm 27 and your point sums up my last five years perfectly. This does nothing for me except make it even tougher for me to get through to a position. Great for 'the next generation' but I think I am one example of proof that there has still been an overlooked 'lost generation'. A shame.
Anonymous
MA Member
12.09.2012, 19:32
Yes, I'm exactly in the same position at 26. And I would give my right arm for an opportunity like this to get into the sector.
Anonymous
12.09.2012, 16:46
Absolutely right - the Museum/Heritage sector is full of highly qualified graduates aged 30 and over who are still struggling on part-time entry level jobs because they are never given the opportunity to progress. It is they who need access to additional skills first if they are ever to have homes and families of their own. Further competition in an over-crowded field is the last thing they need.
Anonymous
MA Member
12.09.2012, 16:58
'Further competition in an over-crowded field is the last thing they need.' - Precisely!

(same author as before)