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Studying Craft 16 Press release

 Press Release- Immediate

22 September 2016

Craft contributes £3.4bn to the economy and creates careers in design, engineering, and health but worrying data published today reveals that craft education is in jeopardy. As it publishes new figures on Crafts Education today, the Crafts Council also announces Make Your Future, a major new initiative to support craft education and careers.

The latest Studying Craft figures from the Crafts Council show that craft education remains in crisis. Over the last seven years, the numbers of students studying craft GCSEs have plummeted by nearly 25%, the number of design and technology students has dropped by 41%, and higher education courses have fallen by 50% since 2007/08.

Studying Craft 16 indicates that whilst the number of students taking entry level courses in further education has boomed to 67,340 since 2007/08, only 8% of these students progress to more advanced courses indicating a decline in the development of new professional talent.

Studying Craft is the Craft Council's long-term research analysing trends in craft education, including latest figures in GCSEs, further education, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, adult further education and apprenticeships.

Craft contributes £3.4bn per year to the UK economy. Craft is also a key part of the creative industries, a government priority sector and the second fastest industrial growth sector at 8.9%. The breadth of careers supported through craft - e.g. in robotics, medical innovation and biotechnology as well as more traditional areas such as jewellery, furniture and ceramic design - is largly unknown by the public.

Innovation Through Craft: Opportunities for Growth demonstrates the transfer of craft skills into such sectors as medicine, manufacturing, and the film industry, which all rely on making skills. Essential to this is an education creative appetite and talent is nurtured.

Despite the worrying figures, Studying Craft 16 data reveal some areas of hope. This includes apprenticeships increasing by 387% since 2007/08, with particularly strong growth in Yorkshire & Humber, East Midlands and the North West, suggesting that new routes into craft are being created. Further and Higher Education have also become more diverse with 20% of students from BAME communities, compared to 14% in the wider population.

In response to our first Studying Craft report in 2014, The Crafts Council along with the craft sector, developed and launched our craft education manifesto Our Future is in the Making. The manifesto, launched at a cross-party event at the House of Commons, was supported by over 100 prominent figures such as Peter Lord CBE, Sir Terence Conran, Grayson Perry, Edmund de Waal, and Kirstie Allsopp, and not just from the craft sector but the worlds of design, engineering, and sciences. There are five calls to actions in the manifesto;

  1. Put craft and making at the heart of education by creating opportunities to stimulate take up of GCSEs in art, craft, design, and technology
  2. Build more routes into craft careers by creating further access to education such as apprenticeships
  3. Promote craft enterprise in education through every stage of learning to create more opportunities for craft businesses and educators to work together
  4. Invest in developing craft skills via teachers training to further support makers' careers
  5. Promote and invest in cutting edge artistic and scientific research in higher education

In response to the manifesto calls to action - and to kick-start a transformation in craft education - the Crafts Council is proud to launch Make Your Future today - our education programme in secondary schools in Birmingham, Yorkshire and Greater London. The programme is a hands-on programme that connects traditional craft with digital technologies.

Make Your Future has been developed directly in response to the calls to action in the manifesto and kindly funded by The Comino Foundation, The Clothworkers' Foundation and John Lyon's Charity in partnership with Birmingham City University, Leeds University, and Central Saint Martins. This initiative is part of Craft Council's wider  programme including Hothouse and Injection which supports makers across each stage of their development.

To highlight the breadth of careers in craft, following today's report launch in Birmingham, the Crafts Council and leading makers, designers, retailers and curators are running a Meet the Maker event for West Midlands school students, in partnership with Inspiring the Future.


Craft education lays the foundations for creative and problem-solving skills in young people. Yet our research shows that the pipeline of future makers is at risk if we don't  invest in opportunities to develop and advance craft education and skills. -- Julia Bennett, Head of Research & Policy, Crafts Council

"The overall decline in craft learning among young people that is highlighted in this report is part of a worrying trend affecting creative subjects. It is important to the future of craft, and the wider creative economy, that education and training is invested in and supported." --John Kampfner, Chief Executive, Creative Industries Federation

"Craft is part of our identity as a civilisation. It's what we do and it's about us as a people" -- Jon Snow, Journalist and presenter

"Craft education helps create a fully capable and well-rounded student. To know the essential characteristics of different materials and how to work them equips a child to think out of the box. This creativity is essential, whether a pupil becomes a doctor, a nurse, an engineer, an architect, or scientist. Futures are built by creative and ingenious people; therefore a craft education is an essetional part of a child's learning." -- Kate Malone, Ceramist and judge on Great Pottery Throw Down
From a young age, craft has been at the very core of my life. It helps stimulates imagination and the ability to problem solve which I am still applying in my studio to this very day! We need to ensure that we are investing in creative education including craft to retain the talent we have in the UK as well as support future generations" -- Keith Brymer Jones, Ceramist and judge on Great Pottery Throw Down

For further information about the Crafts Council and Studying Craft please contact Sara Khan at the press office on +44 (0) 20 7806 2518 or s_khan@craftscouncil.org.uk.

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Invite to Studying Craft 16 Launch

You are invited to attend the launch of Studying Craft 16 at 12.45pm on Tuesday 4 October at Thinktank: Birmingham science museum, Millennium Point, Curzon Street,
Birmingham, B4 7XG. Please RSVP to s_khan@craftscouncil.org.uk by Tuesday 27 September.


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About the Crafts Council

  • Founded in 1971 and incorporated by Royal Charter, the Crafts Council is Britain's national agency for contemporary craft.  Through exhibitions, publications and curating the national collection, we champion the UK's foremost makers and present contemporary craft in new ways, challenging perceptions of what craft is and can be.
  • The Crafts Council is supported using public funding by Arts Council England

About Studying Craft

  • The Studying Craft series of reports is research commissioned by the Crafts Council and is a comprehensive examination of contemporary craft education in England.
  • The research examined all stages of formal education and training from Key Stage 4 to postgraduate study to look at provision and participation in craft courses for the last five academic years.

About Our Future is in the Making: the Education Manifesto for Craft and   Making

  • Our Future is in the Making Manifesto was developed in 2014 by the Crafts Council with, and on behalf of, the whole sector: makers, businesses, students and educators.
  • Craft generates £3.4bn for the economy. 150,000 people are employed in businesses driven by craft skills that enrich our society and economy in many ways.
  • Makers contribute to sectors as diverse as engineering, medicine, technology, architecture, fashion and design. Beyond economic value, education in and through craft contributes to cognitive development and engages learners. Through engagement with materials and ideas, it develops creativity, inventiveness, problem-solving and practical intelligence as well as fostering wellbeing.
  • For all these reasons, craft education matters. This manifesto sets out practical steps to secure the future of craft education through five key calls to action.

About Make Your Future

  • Make Your Future is a hands-on programme that connects traditional craft with digital technologies. The programme starts in the autumn term 2016 and will ignite a passion for craft in young people, working with Higher Education Institutions, cultural partners, secondary schools and makers to mash up traditional and digital making skills in the classroom.
  • The programme will pioneer an approach that strengthens the position of making skills as a cross-curricular bridge in schools, creating new opportunities for work and study in ceramics, metalwork, textiles and digital craft. 
  • In the 2016/17 school year we'll begin delivering Make Your Future working with schools in Birmingham, Ealing and Leeds.
  • Make Your Future is built on the legacy of Craft Councils Firing  Up programme that ran from 2010-13.

About Inspiring the Future

  • Inspiring the Future aims to address one of the key calls for change in Our Future is in the Making: the Education Manifesto for Craft and Making - to build more routes into craft careers.
  • The Crafts Council has paired up with national education charity Inspiring the Future to ensure that craft is recognised as a route to a successful and rewarding professional life.
  • Craft professionals from across the sector attend events organised by the Crafts Council to help tell young people about what they do and how creative skills have shaped their working life.