Learning to Survive in the Global Creative Media Industries


In 2009, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport reported that 1,978,400 people were employed in the creative media industries and that this sector accounted for over seven per cent of GDP – a contribution of £60 billion per annum to the British economy.

In recognition of the sector’s importance, last year the Labour Government set out in Digital Britain its developing strategy to ensure that the UK remains a global leader in the creative industries.

The Secretary of State for Business said in October 2009:
“The Government is determined that the UK will strengthen its place as a world leader in the communications and digital technology sectors. Britain must get through the worst and prepare for the upturn. The digital economy will be central to this"

A Difficult Climate

These industries are experiencing significant reductions in activity because of the economic downturn. For example Channel 4, Trinity Mirror and ITV have all made large scale redundancies.

Enders Analysis recently reported that because of the recession a total of 200,000 jobs were expected to be lost from the industry in the next few years, particularly in commercial television, radio and newspapers.

Rapid Reaction

Urgent action is required to offset redundancies and company failures and to build capability to realise the ambition set out in Digital Britain, thus ensuring that when the UK emerges from recession, it consolidates its position as one of the global leaders of the creative industries.

For both companies and individuals the challenge for higher education is to accelerate embracing and exploiting the opportunities presented by digital technologies and their global exploitation.

For the company, it is new business models and revenue streams; for the individual, new skills and sustainable employment. Creative media companies must transform radically the way they operate in the current financial climate, embrace organisational restructuring and technological developments, and develop a workforce possessing new digital skills and management understanding.

Knowledge is Power

Yet less than 18% of those working in the creative media industries have a master’s qualification. I realise many people reading this will say, ‘so what - qualifications don’t necessarily equate to expertise or talent’, and of course that’s true. But the challenges we face are increasingly complex, whether it be maximising our secondary intellectual property rights or monetising content on emerging platforms - knowledge is power and one thing Universities and masters courses (at least the good ones!) have an abundance of is knowledge.

That’s why Bournemouth University (where I work!), operates a suite of Short Courses for Media Professionals. Each course addresses a very real business challenge or production specialism, ranging from Multi Platform Video and Graphics to Intellectual Property and Content Rights Management. Each course is two days face to face followed by seven weeks of online learning. If you choose to complete the assignment you can get masters credits which you can use to build your own bespoke masters qualification. The short courses have been running for just over a year and over 125 people have taken courses. My view is that these are the smart few preparing themselves and their companies for tough times ahead.

Photo (cc) Mr. Thomas