A UNIQUE pilot employment scheme has supported 89 new entry level jobs in the creative industries.
Created by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland the NI Creative Employment Programme (NI CEP) gives young people the opportunity to gain paid work in the sector.
The programme, supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funding, provided £275,000 to create a range of paid internships and apprenticeships for young people aged 16-24.
Industry matched this investment with a further £500,000 in wages. Participating employers on the programme came from across Northern Ireland and ranged from established arts venues to micro-businesses.
After successfully managing the NI CEP programme for two years, Creative & Cultural Skills is calling for increased support for young people as the programmes draws to a close.
Sara Graham, Nations Director at Creative & Cultural Skills, said: “NI Creative Employment Programme has been highly successful because it addresses two key challenges in the creative industries. The challenge for young people in getting that all-important ’first job’ to build experience and the challenge for creative businesses, the majority of which employ less than five people, in taking the financial risk of creating a new role.
“In providing funding to contribute to wage costs for new entry-level roles, NI CEP tackled these challenges head-on.”
She continued: “The economics of this programme stack up. The funding brought investment from employers both in wages and training. Employers were asked to recruit based on potential rather than on experience. They recognised their role in training and giving young people their first break. In return, employers got enthusiastic new members of staff, bringing fresh ideas and energy to their business.”
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: “This programme has highlighted the importance of paid employment opportunities for young people who want to develop a career in the creative industries. Thanks to the support we have received from the sector, we have exceeded our original ambition to create 80 jobs, providing quality on-thejob training for 89 young people across a range of specialist areas.”
The success of the programme will be celebrated on December 7 at the annual NI Creative & Cultural Skills Awards.