The ending of EU freedom of movement will “imperil the creative industries and threaten further growth” according to a report by Creative Industries Federation.
CIF is the national organisation for the UK’s creative industries, covering sectors such as architecture, advertising, media, TV, film and fashion. Its latest Global Talent Report highlights the risk posed by ending EU freedom of movements to the sectors it represents, which account for a contribution to the economy of £87bn and which employ in excess of 3m people.
In the foreword to the report chief executive John Kampfer and chairman Rick Haythornthwaite say the UK needs to “radically reimagine” its immigration system as companies the federation represents say they risk losing business if they need to rely on the international visa system, which they say is slow and costly. The UK risks driving companies overseas where they can more readily employ international talent, they say.
“To stop talent and companies from leaving these shores, the UK needs to continue to be an attractive option. Workers including performers, freelancers and full-time employees, need quick and flexible entry. We must secure as open a system of movement as possible for EU talent who have been an important part of the workforce for decades. We should use this opportunity to build an immigration system to welcome talent from outside the EU, too. The current system is restrictive. We should aim to access the world’s most exciting creatives.
“However, this is not just about terms of entry. It is one thing to permit people to come here, but it is quite another to welcome them. The world has widely interpreted Brexit as a sign that the UK is turning its back on the world. We must reverse that impression if we are to attract the talent that has made us a global creative leader. The cultural sector will be key to building our new relationship with other countries and maintaining our reputation as a country open for business,” they argue.
Official statistics from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport show the sector overall employs an average proportion of EU workers (at 6.7%) and a slightly above- average number of non-EU workers (at 6%). Of the 143,000 workers in designer and designer fashion, around 11,000 (or about 7.7%) are from the EU. No official figures are available for this sector are available for non-EU workers.
Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council, one of the members of CIF, says in the report. “Our industry, our businesses, our creatives, our talent are international, literally in citizenship, but also in outlook. London is the most diverse, multicultural and open city in the world and we fiercely want to protect that reputation.
“The Brexit agenda remains the same – talent. We need to welcome and support talent in the UK. Our education system needs to support creativity and home-grown talents but the education agenda seems to not support this. We need to support international talent to come to the UK and study here or we will become very parochial in our views and less diverse in our outlook. We need to ensure that talent can travel here for events like London Fashion Week. We support the Creative Industries Federation in its work around creative visas,” she adds.
The report calls for a new twin-track approach to immigration which includes visa-free travel between the EU and the UK and maintaining freedom of movement during any transition period, as well as introducing measures to streamline non-EU talent recruitment.
Suggestions for EU immigration include:
– Secure reciprocal rights for UK workers to move and work freely for short-term projects, such as performances and shoots.
– Provide same-day access to talent.
– Establish a youth mobility scheme with the EU.
– Allow access to low-skilled workers.
– Provide a route for freelance talent.
– Mitigate any additional costs and administration.
– Allow employers to bring in EU workers without meeting the current non-EU minimum salary requirement (currently £30,000).
Suggestions for the non-EU system include:
– Introduce a ‘creative freelancer’ visa.
– Scrap the immigration skills charge.
– Improve the UK’s ability to track the working needs of the sector.
– Allow multiple entry and greater periods of time between professional engagements on short-term visas.
– Allow ‘exceptional talent’ from all parts of the creative industries to use the tier 1 system.
– Improve the visa processing system.
CIF carried out a survey of 250 businesses within its membership which revealed that 75% of them employed EU nationals. Of these, two thirds said they could not fill those jobs with British workers due to domestic and global skills gaps. The companies argued they needed access to international talent to attract the “brightest and best” and to gain access to international markets.
“If we are to remain a creative leader attracting the brightest and best from around the world we must make every effort to maintain our reputation for openness and internationalism. Without this reputation, we will not attract the kind of talent needed to maintain our position. Government has stated its ambition to create a ‘truly global Britain’. Projecting this image of openness, and developing an immigration system that complements it, will be vital in ensuring this happens,” the report says.
British fashion business Jigsaw recently unveiled its #heartimmigration campaign highlighting the positive impact immigration has on its business and the industry as a whole. As well as an online and print media campaign, the retailer, which employs 45 different nationalities, took over Oxford Circus tube station with its ads and manifesto, part of which reads: “Without immigration, we’d be selling potato sacks. We need beautiful minds from around the world. Working with beautiful materials from around the world. To make beautiful things for people around the world. Fear, isolation, and intolerance will hold us back.”
Last week the Advertising Association launched an ad, created by agency Adam&EveDDB, highlighting the importance of overseas talent to its industry. The ads, which show a diversity of talent read “We’re a great advert for Great Britain”, form part of its campaign to press the government to allow it to maintain access to global talent. More than half of new arrivals to London advertising agencies currently come from overseas and the UK is a large exporter of talent.