I was an Olympics sceptic but some of my misgivings were evidently misplaced. Here’s an example of the Olympics legacy influencing a youth employment scheme to help young unemployed people find work in the arts and creative industries.
Led by the Royal Opera House, The Creative Jobs Programme is giving 40 unemployed young people aged 18 to 24 the opportunity to undertake six months’ paid work at one of the organisations involved in the Cultural Olympiad. 23 London organisations are involved in CJP, including Arcola Theatre, East London Dance, English National Opera, Hackney Empire, Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells and Theatre Royal Stratford East.
The scheme was launched at the end of May to coincide with the London 2012 Festival and it runs until the end of November.
In light of record youth unemployment in the UK, the Cultural Olympiad Board identified an opportunity to work with its partners and funders to set up a programme to create jobs and training for young people and to develop a lasting skills legacy for the Cultural Olympiad. The initiative is supported by LOCOG and funded by Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK, and BP.
The CJP offers the participants — who work as a group — a range of structured training that gives an insight into working in the creative and cultural sector. It includes induction, accredited training, mentoring, employability skills and sector-based master classes drawing on the expertise of staff across the programme.
The focus of the programme is to equip young people with the skills and experience they need to start a career in one of the creative industries. And the stress is on giving opportunities to those who might otherwise be excluded from the usual routes into the sector. Employers involved want this to help to diversify the workforce of their own organisations and the creative and cultural sector as a whole.
Tony Hall, Chief Executive, the Royal Opera House — who regards this very much as a pilot scheme and starting point — said: “The creative industries are notoriously hard to break into - especially for those who can’t afford to take unpaid work placements, so it is essential that we increase access to this growing and valuable industry.”
He continued: “We know from the previous incarnation of the scheme that this approach works and I’m extremely excited by the possibility of rolling the programme out to a much wider group of young people in the future - what a fitting legacy for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.”