View full report for creative and design route review

Review summary

This creative and design route review is the third conducted by the Institute. Each of our reviews has provided an exciting and informative opportunity for us to listen to employers, apprentices and providers to get a better understanding of the occupations and skills required and to appreciate the opportunities and challenges facing employers in developing the future creative and design workforce, now and into the foreseeable future. The disruption resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic has made this more important than ever.

We recognise that COVID-19 continues to impact this sector and have considered the most appropriate time to publish our findings. We recognise businesses may not have the opportunity to engage with the full report in the current climate and have therefore published a summary of our key findings. We plan to publish a full report later this year.

This summary report details the key outcomes of the Institute’s creative and design route review. The summary includes changes to the route’s occupational map, final recommendations for the standards in scope and the Institute’s overarching commitments to the route.

We are committed to providing a world-leading foundation for high-quality technical education across apprenticeships, T Levels and higher technical qualifications. The creative and design route review sets out to ensure that.

The review has produced an updated occupational map which adds occupations employers have said they need to meet current and future business requirements and removed those that are no longer relevant. It has also scrutinised occupational standards to make sure they include the right knowledge, skills and behaviours to allow an individual to become fully competent. This has led us to recommend changes to 15 standards. We have also set out the Institute’s commitments to this route. These commitments include ensuring the availability and accessibility of high quality technical education for this route by working with employers to identify new occupations and providing flexibilities in sectors where short-term and project-based employment is most common. This will ensure that technical education offer will be of the highest quality for learners and provides organisations with employees who have the right skills for their business.  

1. Review context

We have worked hard to make sure that this review is truly reflective of the views of creative and design employers. From the outset, the project has been a highly collaborative process with the views of employers and other stakeholders close to delivery thoroughly engaged throughout, despite the challenges and we would like to thank all those who have found the time to contribute. The review launched in July 2019 with a public consultation and engagement with employers (including trailblazer groups), representative organisations, apprentices and providers. Regular and continuous input was sought in the early stages of the review.

In March 2020 the Institute, in consultation with employers, made the decision to slow the pace of route reviews because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While work continued, we were aware of the unprecedented challenges that employers were facing and we have carefully managed what we have asked of them.

Employers that we have engaged with, following the December 2020 national COVID-19 lockdown, advised us that publishing the full details of the review’s findings and recommendations would not be beneficial to the sector at this time. However, a summary report would support trailblazer groups to move forward in making changes to standards where needed and to understand which new occupational standards have been prioritised for development. We will continue to engage with employers to understand and decide whether publishing this full report later this year will further support the development of technical education in the route, reflecting the impact of COVID-19 and the longer-term changes to the sector that may influence future technical education programmes. We plan to run employer engagements alongside the release of the full report to discuss the findings. 

We would like to thank all employers who have taken the time to develop the standards in this route and everyone who has contributed to this review.

2. Recommendations for the creative and design occupational map

The creative and design occupational map sets out the occupations within the creative and design route that can be accessed through technical education.

As part of the review, we evaluated the occupations that were included on the creative and design map to ensure they reflected employers’ current and future needs. The focus for the analysis was occupations that have not yet been developed into occupational standards. This was to ensure that the maps accurately reflected current occupations in the creative sectors. The following changes will be made as a result:

Five occupations have been added to the map:

Five new occupations have been added to the map and are ready to be developed into occupational standards by employers.

  1. CAD technician (technical occupation – level 2/3)
  2. Creative artworker (technical occupation – level 2/3)
  3. Production designer (professional occupation – level 6/7)
  4. Milliner (technical occupation – level 2/3)
  5. Junior copywriter (technical occupation – level 2/3)

11 occupations have been removed from the map:

We have removed the following 11 occupations from the map following consultation feedback and engagement with the sector. This is because the occupations do not meet the Institute’s criteria and/or are covered by other standards. For example, upholsterer is already covered by the furniture manufacturer apprenticeship at level 2 and advanced upholsterer apprenticeship at level 3.

  1. Leather goods designer (higher technical occupation – level 4/5)
  2. Furniture designer (professional occupation – level 6/7)
  3. Upholsterer (technical occupation – level 2/3)
  4. Librarian (professional occupation – level 6/7)
  5. Media archivist (professional occupation – level 6/7)
  6. Artistic producer (higher technical occupation – level 4/5)
  7. Post-production editing assistant (higher technical occupation – level 4/5)
  8. Production coordinator (higher technical occupation – level 4/5)
  9. Video designer (professional occupation – level 6/7)
  10. Broadcast & communications principal technologist (professional occupation – level 6/7)
  11. Costume & wardrobe assistant (higher technical occupation – level 4/5)

In addition, 10 occupations have been recommended to be prioritised for development, following feedback to the review. This includes milliner that is being added to the map as part of the review. The Institute will work with employers to explore the demand for technical education provision for these occupations.

  1. Glassmaker (technical occupation – level 2/3)
  2. Prop maker (technical occupation – level 2/3)
  3. Hair & wig maker (higher technical occupation – level 4/5)
  4. Costume designer (higher technical occupation – level 4/5)
  5. Milliner (technical occupation – level 2/3)
  6. Lighting assistant (higher technical occupation – level 4/5)
  7. Deputy stage manager (higher technical occupation – level 4/5)
  8. Camera assistant (higher technical occupation – level 4/5)
  9. Sound assistant (higher technical occupation – level 4/5)
  10. Graphic designer (technical occupation – level 2/3)

An updated occupational map has been published and can be found here.

3. Recommendations for apprenticeships in scope for this review

The following criteria were used to determine which standards were in scope of the review:

  • apprenticeships which were approved for delivery prior to the establishment of the Institute in April 2017 and where the standard had not been significantly updated since,
  • apprenticeships where concerns had been raised over the content of the standard,
  • apprenticeships where the standard did not comply with the Institute’s occupational requirements.

The 15 standards included in the review met at least one of these criteria and were therefore looked at in detail.

Each standard has been assessed against the Institute’s quality requirements, taking onboard feedback from employers (including trailblazers), apprentices, providers, alongside that received through our public consultation. We also considered feedback from the Institute’s peer reviewers, who are independent third-party experts in the relevant occupations.

The Institute’s creative and design employer route panel evaluated all the evidence and confirmed the final recommendations.

These are the final recommendations on each of the occupational standards in scope:

Standard in scope

Review decision

Broadcast Production Assistant (level 3)

Junior Content Producer (level 3)

Retain both standards and revise the content to ensure they reflect recent innovations and developments in practice and changes in Institute policy.  

Both trailblazer groups have also been asked to consider whether it would be appropriate to include both standards in one core and options apprenticeship.

Creative Venue Technician (level 3)

Live Event Technician (level 3)

Retain both standards under one core and options apprenticeship model and revise the content to ensure that it remains relevant and up to date.
Junior Journalist (level 3) Incorporate print, TV/radio and public relations and corporate communications options into one core apprenticeship. Revise the content to ensure that it reflects recent innovations and developments in practice and changes in Institute policy.

Assistant Technical Director (Visual Effects) (level 4)

Bespoke Saddler (level 3)

Bespoke Tailor and Cutter (level 5)

Junior 2D Artist (Visual Effects) (level 4)

Live Event Rigger (level 3)

Organ Builder (level 3)

Outside Broadcasting Engineer (integrated degree) (level 7)

Publishing Assistant (level 3)

Spectacle Maker (level 3)

Watchmaker (level 3)

Retain the standard and revise the content to ensure they reflect recent innovations and developments in practice and changes in Institute policy.

The outcomes of the review have been shared with the relevant trailblazer groups. The Institute’s relationship managers will now work closely with them to update the standards which will then be submitted through the Institute’s approvals process. As part of this process, the updated standards will also be reviewed to ensure they use accessible and gender-neutral language, maximising the appeal of the occupation and associated technical education programmes.

Once the occupational standards have been amended, we will determine whether the assessment plan and funding band need to be updated to ensure alignment with the updated occupational standards, following the Institutes normal approvals process for apprenticeships.

4. The Institute’s commitment to the creative and design route

In addition to updating the occupational map and standards in scope of the review the Institute is committed to doing the following:

1. To ensure availability of technical education

  • Working with employers to identify new occupations. The review identified five new occupations that are ready to be developed into occupational standards by employers. We will continue to work within the creative industries to identify new occupations, add them to the occupational maps and discuss the most appropriate technical education route into the occupation. We will also support employers to develop technical education programmes that are relevant to the creative sectors.
  • Protecting specialist craft skills. The Institute recognises that the number of starts on an apprenticeship should not be the only indicator of its validity, particularly where the occupation is highly specialised. For example, the review has recommended adding milliner to the occupational maps and prioritising it for development alongside other craft occupations, including hair & wig maker and glassmaker.

2. To improve accessibility to technical education

  • Ensuring apprenticeships and T Levels are suitable to small businesses. The majority of employers in creative and design sectors are small or micro businesses. In addition, many people are freelance and self-employed. The review highlighted the challenges these businesses face in finding the time and capacity to develop and deliver apprenticeships. We will continue to ensure that small businesses are involved in the development of apprenticeships and T Levels; this includes ensuring continued compliance with our trailblazer group requirements which require the inclusion of small businesses in the development of standards.
  • Stimulating end point assessment organisation (EPAO) and training provider markets. The specialist nature of many of the occupations in this route can make it challenging for employers to attract providers and independent assessors with the required level of skill and experience. Through the route panels and reviews, we will encourage employers from all routes to share knowledge and good practice with each other to benefit the wider community in overcoming potential barriers. We will also ensure that other government departments are made aware of potential barriers relating to specific apprenticeships for EPAOs and training providers.
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion. We will continue to ensure that our route panels, trailblazers and other groups bring together a broad range of employers to ensure that the content of apprenticeships, T Levels and wider technical education programmes clearly reflect the needs of different learners . This will keep diversity and inclusion at the forefront of decision-making. We will also continue to monitor the uptake of apprenticeships and other technical education programmes. Monitoring the uptake will provide us with information on where targeted schemes may be needed to encourage and support a more diverse cohort of learners that better represents the diversity within society.
  • Clarifying the opportunities for career progression. The Institute is committed to including all technical education programmes, including T Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications on the occupational maps in order to raise awareness of the opportunity they provide for learners to progress their career, both within and between routes. We are also intending to share more information about the specific progression routes available for different occupations as we develop the occupational maps, in order to empower learners to progress in their career of choice.

3. To support the development and delivery of technical education during the COVID-19 pandemic and support recovery

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on employers, freelancers and apprentices in the creative and design route. Restrictions nationally and locally over the past year have meant that businesses have had to continue to be flexible and work hard to adjust to the restrictions.

The Institute is committed to supporting the apprenticeship sector to deal with the significant challenge COVID-19 presents. We are doing everything we can to continue the delivery of high-quality apprenticeships while putting everyone’s health and wellbeing first. We are also working closely with the DfE, ESFA, HM Treasury, and the National Apprenticeship Service to ensure a joined-up approach.

You can find out more on our website about how the Institute is supporting the apprenticeship sector to deal with the significant challenge COVID-19 presents. If you are looking for help on a specific apprenticeship, please see our published list of additional flexibilities. At the time of publishing this summary report, the creative venue technician (level 3) apprenticeship has flexibilities in place. We will keep this under review and make any further updates as required.

The Institute is also committed to continuing to work with employers to mitigate, as far as is possible, the immediate impact of the pandemic and understand the longer-term implications for the occupations within the route, apprenticeships and other technical education programmes.

5. Next steps

The outcomes of the review have been shared with the trailblazer groups for the standards in scope. The Institute’s team of relationship managers will now work closely with the trailblazers to update the standards. These will then be submitted through the Institute’s approvals process. We would normally expect changes to the apprenticeships to be completed within 12 months of the publication of our recommendations. However, we recognise the need for flexibility and will consult with the trailblazers and the wider route on the timelines to implement any changes.

We will publish a more detailed report later this year which will reflect on the impact of COVID-19 on the sector and any longer-term implications for technical education. Alongside the report we will organise events with employers in the sector to discuss the findings.

The first T Levels in the creative and design route are currently in development in the following pathways:

  • Craft and design
  • Media, broadcast and production

They will be available for first teaching in September 2023. More information on T Levels can be found on our website and on

The next route reviews to be completed are the agriculture, environmental and animal care and engineering and manufacturing route reviews. Further information of the status of each of our route reviews can be found on the Institute’s website.