A senior Whitehall official has underlined the need for universities and business to work closer together to ensure companies are supplied with the right mix of skills and expertise to help them flourish in the highly-competitive creative business sector. Addressing more than 200 business representatives at a recent Kingston University conference, entitled Releasing Creativity, Matthew Hill from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport stressed the importance of the creative industries to UK Plc. The conference followed the publication of the strategic paper Creative Britain – New Talents for the New Economy which set out the Government’s vision for the sector and outlined plans to invest £70 million in training and education.
“The United Kingdom is in a leading position in the global creative economy,” Mr Hill said. “Clearly universities have a crucial part to play in making sure graduates have a combination of the creative, technical and business skills needed to succeed in the creative industries.”
The Releasing Creativity event, held at the new Rose of Kingston Theatre, aimed to bring businesses up-to-speed with Kingston’s activity as a hub of creative economy development in the South East.
The creative industries were growing at twice the rate of the general national economy, contributing £60 billion each year to the nation’s coffers, principal lecturer Dr Nick Wilson explained. “More than half of all creative jobs are based in London and the South East and the sector is the second largest in London after business services,” he said.
A 2005 report by Sir George Cox, Review of Creativity in Business,had been the catalyst for the University’s emphasis on the sector, Dr Wilson added. “The Cox Review called for higher education to create multi-disciplinary programmes to promote creativity and innovation,” he said. “With our strong employer links, history of bringing education and business together and experience and knowledge of the sector, Kingston is in the perfect position to help drive the creative economy forward at a regional, national and international level,” he said.
The University has wasted no time getting to grips with how education and business can work together to benefit the sector, launching an MA Creative Economy Programme last September. The programme, which brings together students from such diverse specialisms as the built environment, design, media and the performing arts, aims to equip participants with the leadership, entrepreneurial and team working skills needed to succeed in the sector. The first intake of students, many from overseas, were working on projects ranging from advertising to film-making and sustainable fashion design, Dr Wilson said. “A high percentage of our MA Creative Economy students are international, many coming from the Far East, which provides a great opportunity for creative industries in the region to tap in to experience and skills developed abroad.”
In another initiative, Kingston University has received a £250,000 award from the Higher Education Funding Council of England, in partnership with St. George’s, University of London, to set up a centre for design and innovation, called ‘Innoversity’. The laboratory will be home to multi-disciplinary teams of researchers, engineers and business experts working alongside MA Creative Economy students to invest their energies in coming up with solutions to real-life challenges in industry and business.