July 8, 2024

How mentoring can close the class gap in the creative industries

By Katie Thomson-Greene, Managing Director at the Creative Mentor Network

Manchester has evolved as a hub for the UK creative industries in the North over the past decade, but as more investment goes into the city,  it’s crucial to ensure that the businesses being built are diverse and representative of the city’s population.

Historically London has dominated the UK’s creative industries, but growing creative economies and investment in cities like Manchester mean there’s a new wealth of opportunities for people outside the capital.

Recent developments highlight Manchester’s success:

Yet, this growth presents challenges. In the last three years, approximately 10,000 people have moved from London to Manchester. While the industry is expanding, many of these new jobs aren’t going to local talent. A study by the Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre reveals that despite high levels of investment, areas with greater deprivation have fewer creative industries and employment opportunities in the sector. 

Research shows that those from a privileged background are twice as likely to be employed in the creative industry than those from working-class backgrounds. Whilst new opportunities are opening in the city, without the support, knowledge and confidence, many young people won’t be able to access these jobs. 

At Creative Mentor Network, we’re addressing this issue head-on. Our work connects creative industry companies with young people aged 16-25 from lower socio-economic backgrounds, aiming to close the class gap in the creative industries. By collaborating with local schools, youth centres, and organisations, we identify young people interested in creative careers and match them with mentors already working in the industry.

Our mentoring programmes train creative industry professionals to become mentors, ensuring they understand the barriers their mentees may face due to their backgrounds. This approach provides young people with direct access to industry support, enhancing their knowledge and networks while driving change through education and advocacy.

The creative industries encompass a vast array of fields, and our work aims to open doors across this diverse landscape. From film and television to art, music, architecture, VFX, gaming, design, and advertising – we cover it all. But our scope extends beyond just creative roles. Our mentors aren’t limited to just being in creative roles, we work with those in project management, HR, finance, and more. This broad approach serves a crucial purpose: it helps the young people we work with grasp the full spectrum of career possibilities available to them.

Our latest impact report demonstrates that:

  • Mentoring gives young people a stronger understanding of job types and career pathways
  • Having a mentor boosts confidence in identifying suitable jobs based on skills and interests
  • Mentors help young people expand their professional networks, directly impacting employment opportunities

This October, we’re launching our first Manchester-specific programme and are currently seeking mentees and mentors to be part of this with us. 

How to get involved:


This article is featured in our 10 July newsletter.

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