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More young people will be given the opportunity to work in creative industries, thanks to a new scheme developed by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and delivered by partners including the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).

Creative Workforce for the Future will support small to medium-sized companies to develop a more inclusive workforce in the region's cultural and creative industries. It will draw on the wealth of talent available from currently under-represented groups, in particular people from black, Asian and minority ethnic or disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. In Bristol, 11% of the city's working-age population are from ethnic minorities – a position not reflected within the film and TV sector.

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles said: “Our world-renowned creative and cultural sector is a crucial part of the West of England's economy. Creative industries have been one of the fastest-growing sectors across the UK for the past decade, and this is reflected in the West of England, with a 27% growth in digital and creative employment between 2015 and 2017.

“I want to ensure that everyone, regardless of background, has an opportunity to have a career in the creative industry. Bristol is one of the BBC's three key sites, along with London and Manchester, and the BBC Natural History Unit is soon to be expanded as a core part of the region's production activity. It is also the home of Channel 4's new Creative Hub. These businesses need skilled employees now, and this demand is expected to increase.”

Creative Workforce for the Future will work with the world-class cluster of creative small and medium-sized businesses – which is concentrated in Bristol and Bath – and reach out to talent across the region.

Bridging the gap from education to work, participants will undertake placements at different creative and cultural hubs to develop their experience, CV, portfolio and industry contacts, and gain access to a Talent Network offering opportunity, industry expertise and advice. The tailored support will continue for an additional 12 months to help them develop further experience through employment, contract and/or freelance work.

The Creative Workforce for the Future programme will be delivered by WECA's partners in the Network for Creative Enterprise, led by UWE Bristol and Watershed, with hubs including The Guild Bath, Knowle West Media Centre, Spike Island, and Rife Magazine at Watershed, who are joined by new hubs Bristol City Council's Bristol Museums and Creative Youth Network. They will work with business networks in the region including Bristol Media, the Royal Television Society, Creative Bath, TechSpark, Bristol Games Hub, the West of England Design Forum and Engine Shed, and the Channel 4 Creative Hub which launched on 15 January in Bristol.

Channel 4's Managing Director Nations and Regions, Sinead Rocks, said: “The creative industries need to be more representative of the UK as it is today and so we're delighted that Creative Workforce for the Future will be nurturing and developing fresh, untapped talent with a particular focus on young people from under-represented groups in really tangible ways.”

Lynn Barlow, Assistant Vice-Chancellor for Creative and Cultural Industries Engagement at UWE Bristol, said: “As a university, we have a key role to play in bridging the attainment gap of all young people in the region. It is vitally important the make-up of the regional film and TV sector reflects the diversity seen in Bristol's communities and we're proud to be leading the Creative Workforce for the Future initiative with WECA. This crucial work to widen access to employment in the creative industries runs alongside our sector-leading work to widen participation in higher education.

“We aim to produce graduates who are ready and able to work and we recognise how valuable internships and placements can be. The internships available through this programme offer a fantastic opportunity for young people to launch their careers in the creative industries, and we'll be encouraging eligible students at UWE Bristol to apply for them.”

Victoria Tillotson, Talent Development lead at Watershed said: “It can be incredibly difficult for young people to get a foot in the door of the creative industries. Creative Workforce for the Future tackles this issue head-on, bridging the gap between underrepresented young people and creative companies who are excited to embrace new voices within their teams. Watershed is delighted to be a part of this vital programme. Through Rife Magazine, we will work with the programme's cultural hubs to create a powerful Talent Network that will begin to change Bristol and Bath's creative industries, promising a brighter future for everyone.”

Creative Workforce for the Future is identified in the West of England Employment and Skills Plan, developed by WECA in partnership with businesses and skills providers, in line with the region's Local Industrial Strategy. It is supported by investment from the West of England Combined Authority and the European Social Fund and is being delivered as part of the Bristol + Bath Creative R+D programme.

Creative SMEs which are keen to find out more about Creative Workforce for the Future and express an interest in being part of the project should visit:

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