Work culture key to attracting next generation of creatives, finds Ontario Creates study

New research from Ontario Creates, conducted by VICE Media Group, finds that work culture and championing mental health and diversity, are key to attracting the next generation of young creatives, in addition to mentorship and skills support not being offered in traditional learning environments. 

VICE surveyed 1,000 young Canadians for The Future of the Creative Workforce – 500 Gen Z (18-24 years old) and 500 Gen Y (25-30 years old) – in both English and French, to better understand awareness and interest in careers in the creative industries. In-depth interviews were also conducted with young professionals in creative fields and young business leaders working in various behind-the-scenes roles. 

Among the survey’s findings:

  • 94% of young Canadians are interested in creative roles (48% are very interested) and 94% are interested in behind-the-scenes roles in creative industries (51% are very interested).
  • Young creatives are more willing to experiment with their career paths than past generations with one in two saying they are constantly exploring new things when it comes to job opportunities.
  • With competition for creative work steep, it’s increasingly important for creators to have a broad skill set (production, marketing, social media expertise) to stand out.
  • Many young creatives cited “business knowledge” as the key area where they lack expertise. Specifically, knowing how to invoice, navigate taxes, and negotiate fair wages.
  • 64% of those surveyed shared that networking is crucial to finding a job in a creative industry. 

When it comes to behind-the-scenes roles in the creative industries, the study found more awareness is needed about roles available in Canada, especially among young women. It also determined that many young professionals pursuing careers in behind-the-scenes creative roles are lacking the mentorship and skills they feel are most required in these positions like creativity, adaptability, flexibility and communication, which they did not learn through traditional schooling. 

The survey also provides insight into the emphasis Gen Z and Gen Y employees put on work culture, mental health, diversity, and employee resources.

  • 78% of those surveyed said work-life balance is the most important thing to consider when choosing a job, although they recognized creative industry careers often require long hours on set, in a studio or at the office, so balance may not mean “evenings and weekends free.”
  • Gen Z and Gen Y express a large desire to see different types of representation (gender, sexual identity, ethnicity, etc.) both in creative and behind-the-scenes roles. Six in 10 say creative fields should actively recruit talent from different industries to provide more visibility and diversity. 

“This research provides valuable insights for Ontario content creators and companies,” said Karen Thorne-Stone, President and CEO at Ontario Creates, in a release. “The findings will help Ontario companies better understand how to attract and retain increasingly vital Gen Z employees. Importantly, the research also revealed significant opportunities to educate young people who are already excited about the creative industries, about the range of roles available. Building a strong base of diverse and skilled employees is crucial to the long-term success of Ontario’s creative industries.”

“As we begin to reemerge from the pandemic, we are entering an era filled with new ideas and highly creative young generations. This is a recipe for some of the most groundbreaking creativity the world has ever seen,” added Julie Arbit, Global SVP of Insights, VICE Media Group. “To realize the full potential, we need to develop a toolkit for the culture makers and cultural business leaders of the future that addresses their shifting definition of success and needs around work and education.”


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