Play Your Part in Shaping Future Skills

Posted on June 15, 2010 in News & Reviews

Did you go to the London Book Fair this year? Were you at the SYP session on ‘How to Get Into Publishing’? If yes, you may remember me.

I was the the nervous looking woman on the panel, hands shaking as I tried to tweet, while I looked across the 160 people in the audience with abject terror. The brief was to talk about the research Skillset had completed in 2008 into the skills that publishers look for in new entrants.

I pulled out 9 tips that outlined the main skills and attributes that employers had said they look for when recruiting. Here’s the list in brief or you can see a copy of the slides on the Skillset blog

1. Positive, can-do attitude
2. Research & study skills
3. Technical & digital understanding/capability
4. Good communication
5. High levels of literacy & numeracy
6. Organisational skills
7. Project management
8. Problem solving
9. Team working

As I mentioned in my blog post, I was struck by the level of engagement and attention from the audience, particularly by the thoughtful and challenging questions in the Q&A session at the end. You asked about how to break the cycle of needing work experience, but not being able to gain work experience without it; the struggle to survive while undertaking unpaid work experience, particularly in London; and the apparent age discrimination several people felt they had encountered. These were articulate questions full of passion, and I felt they demonstrate the commitment – and frustrations – people trying to get into the industry have.

Skillset undertakes an ongoing research programme which includes understanding what the skills issues are from an employer, employee and freelance perspective. Which is why I’m writing this blog. We have just launched the Skillset’s Creative Media Workforce Survey: a major online survey that provides the most comprehensive profile of working life in the industry ever produced.

The survey will measure:

  • Training needs and experiences
  • Qualifications
  • Working patterns
  • Future plans
  • Income
  • Demographics

And Publishing is included for the very first time.

If you are an employee or freelancer working in publishing, please make sure your voice is heard. It takes only 15 minutes to complete the online survey.

You may already have seen this in the SYP newsletter and if you have already taken part, thank you.

For everyone else, please do it now! Forward on to your friends and colleagues. Make sure your skills needs are taken into account.
I’d love to be able to include the findings in next year’s London Book Fair careers seminars (assuming the Committee invites me back!).

Suzanne Kavanagh is the Publishing Sector Manager for Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for Creative Media. She works with employers, individuals, trainers and educators to ensure the workforce has the right skills to keep the sector competitive. Have you got any questions? Contact Suzanne via @sashers or More information and advice is available at: