People, 1. -  3. October 1998
Bernard Casey
Statement: Employment and skills in the cultural sector

The presentation will pick up on three themes found in the Commission paper Culture: Culture Industry and Employment, namely:

  • how can we define the sector and how many people work in it
  • what factors could contribute to its growth
  • what can the sector contribute to employment creation and skill formation

    I shall draw from the study I carried out with Sara Selwood entitled Culture as Commodity? the economics of the arts and the built heritage in the UK. and from contributions to the quarterly Cultural Trends.

    The size of the sector is most easily measured in employment terms, but it is important to distinguish between cultural occupations and cultural industries. Equally, it is important to differentiate "direct" and "indirect" workers in the sector. I shall present some estimates of cultural sector employment in the UK. These suggest that the sector is important, even when it is rather conservatively defined. Also, I shall show how similar estimates could be made for other EU countries, using the Labour Force Survey.

    In considering the sector's growth potential, it is important to distinguish between activities supported largely by the state and activities that are commercial, but also to recognise that even state supported activities have commercial elements to them. I shall concentrate upon state supported activities and discuss the variety of sources of state funding and the extent of security attached to such funding. I shall suggest that there is scope for raising more finance from commercial activities, but also that state expenditure is vital, and that the sector must be able to justify its demands for public resources.

    The cultural sector requires skills that are highly specific to it, but it also requires skills that are used in other sectors. It both depends upon skill formation in other sectors and is capable of providing a base for training people who might ultimately work elsewhere. In the latter sense, at least, it is a sector on which programmes concerned with employment and training should consider. However, in so far s it can also teach more general skills, and that some of its own skills can be of value elsewhere, the contribution it can make as a site for training is enhanced. None of this, however, is to deny that employees in the sector do not need training themselves, if only to assist them to work more efficiently and to justify the claims the sector makes for state resources.

  • Biography:

    Bernard Casey is a labour economist and is currently senior research fellow at the European Institute, London School of Economics. He is one of the authors of Culture as Commodity? the economics of the arts and built heritage in the UK (London: Policy Studies Institute, 1996).

    He has written on the economics of the cultural sector as a public good, on employment in the cultural sector and on training and skills needs in "cultural industries".

    At other timers, he does research on pensions and paying for ageing populations. He is also working on "the contribution of social partnership to economic performance", looking at experience in European Union member states, for the Austrian Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs as part of its contribution to the Austrian EU Presidency.

    Institution: senior research fellow, European Institute, London School of Economics
    London School of Economics - European Institute
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