By Dr Edward Jones Research Officer at the City of London Corporation
Creative professionals might make up a small proportion of the City’s workforce but they are a crucial component of the wider business draw of the Square Mile. Whilst accounting for 7% of City professionals, creative talent provides crucial services to other businesses, helping to foster innovation and support competitiveness. Digital breakthroughs lead to innovation, and advertising and marketing expertise aids business communication, meaning that creative skills help City businesses push the boundaries and remain competitive. So its unsurprising that the largest employers of creative talent in the City are those which complement the wider business ecosystem – digital agencies, publishers, advertisers and architects.
More than half of the creative jobs in the City (18,405 workers) are in tech businesses. These jobs in IT, software and computer services have seen phenomenal growth in recent years, increasing 80% since 2010. This outpaces the growth of this sector in London (54%) and in Great Britain as a whole (48%). Their location in the Square Mile means they are close to the clients and competitors that keep them at the cutting edge. Digital tools and capabilities are rapidly transforming other services as fintech, insuretech, legal tech and regtech become part of the ecosystem’s landscape. This process requires the specialist knowledge of digital agencies, whose growth in recent years reflects the increasingly crucial role of tech to City businesses.
Both publishing (6,200 workers) and advertising and marketing (4,675 workers) also employ a lot of workers in the City, the latter having more than doubled its job count since 2010. The strength of these specialisms highlights the importance of communication and messaging to the knowledge based businesses in and around the Square Mile today.
The music, performing and visual arts sector is a small but fast-growing component of the City’s creative workforce. Home to world-leading cultural institutions such as the Barbican, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the London Symphony Orchestra, the cultural impact of City is also felt in the presence of artists and performers, who have increased in number by 145% between 2010 and 2016, albeit from a modest numerical base of 745 professionals.
Our recent City as a Place for People report showed that there is an increasing blurring between specialisms, with creative solutions and novel perspectives being readily adopted in fields such as finance, insurance and law. The creative work done in-house by IT, marketing or communications workers is not necessarily captured in official estimates like the Business Register and Employment Survey (used in this blog), which are based only on the business area of the employing firm. This means that creative professionals in the Square Mile might will likely make up much more than the official 7% of the workforce.
The Culture Mile initiative has focused interest in the creative ecology of the City. An exciting new research project has recently begun exploring creative enterprise in Culture Mile, getting to grips with the activities which characterise the area’s unique creative offer. The data analysis and in-depth case studies that this project will generate promises to shed further light on the appeal of a Square Mile location for creative businesses.