Od_uktv-9_cr_banner© 2015 Creative Skillset | UKTV Open Doors Careers event

Guiding the creative talent of tomorrow

By Gill Sharp – freelance careers consultant & writer

As Creative Skillset & Central London Careers Hub gear up to deliver a series of professional development sessions for careers advisers, teachers and training providers, experienced careers consultant Gill Sharp ruminates on how to effectively guide and advise the creative talent of tomorrow.


What does the phrase 'creative careers' mean to you? Definitions may vary, but it is generally taken to mean any field where one uses innate talents such as drawing, writing, performing or composing. And, now here’s the rub, all these areas smack of a certain precariousness – a degree of risk, more than a smidgeon of insecurity – so much so that, as careers advisers (being impartial, objective and even-handed souls), we feel obliged to make soothing noises about having a Plan B, often at the expense of exploring Plan A.

Focusing on the client’s priorities is the core of any guidance work, but it’s amazing how often that flies out of the window when a creative career query rears its pretty head. It’s not always easy to find the balance between presenting an accurate picture of the potential drawbacks versus investigating how to get in and get on. So how often do we err on the side of caution?

Lighten up folks: don’t dwell on the downside. In an era when even the brightest graduates are exposed to short term contracts, long term internships, low pay or no pay, anyone aiming at a creative career is in good company and possibly ahead of the crowd. Ah, you say, but how about the competition? Point taken. But anyone counselling would-be lawyers, bankers, management consultants etc (as I regularly do) has to flag up the number of contenders in those sectors too.

© 2016 Creative Skillset | UKTV Open Doors Careers event

What foxes most clients – and let’s been honest here, often their advisers too – is the paucity, not just of disinterested guidance, but of hard facts about how to take their first tentative steps in any creative endeavour. It’s not only that the road can be long and winding (versus the straight and neatly delineated pathways of most 'mainstream' careers), it’s that information is hard to come by, rarely in one place and often contradictory. (Your blogger has just spent over two hours attempting to pull together all the art foundation courses in London, so can vouch for this most readily). Trying to navigate a choppy sea is bad enough, but without a reliable map, it’s well-nigh impossible.

So, as careers advisers, maybe our role when faced with a wanna-be 'creative' is to be genned-up, guidance-centred and positive. Careers guru Michael Arthur has already identified a shift in the way the so-called 'traditional job market' operates, as time-honoured ways of finding work wither and wane. What does he see as essential for any 21st century job seeker? The very same abilities we have always tried to foster amongst any wanna-be creatives: enabling those clients to develop the skills they need to survive and thrive in a world where, contrary to popular belief, there are jobs and plenty of ways into these at every level. Self-awareness, self-reliance and self-confidence – alongside networking, lateral thinking and opportunity readiness – these are our keys to their success. 

Gill Sharp is a member of the Careers Writers Association and an associate of Central London Careers Hub.

When and where will these events take place?

Held in partnership with Central London Careers Hub, these unique sessions for careers advisers, teachers and training providers will take place in central London on the dates below:

20 January 2016 | Advertising + Fashion & Textiles
2 February 2016 | VFX & Animation + Broadcasting

Click here to book your place on any of these special Creative Industries Open Doors Careers events

Want more resources?

For creative careers resources, student opportunities and info about the creative sectors, become a member of our Careers swarm on Hiive.

Central London Careers Hub provides career sector knowledge to Career Development Professionals working in schoolsFE colleges and with the young unemployed in London and the Home Counties.

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