Image of a young woman standing with her hand on an older woman's shoulder, who is sat down. The text is yellow on a blue background and reads: 'Young carers in the workplace'

Young carers miss out on career opportunities and feel unsupported in the creative industries

Posted on March 15, 2022
New Creative Access research for Young Carers’ Action Day highlights specific challenges facing this group in the creative industries

Creative Access, the leading social enterprise in progressive career development support, has found that 80% of young carers working in the creative industries have missed out on career opportunities and a third (30%) have also decided not to apply for a role due to their caring responsibilities. Meanwhile, a further 80% of young carers also claimed their health and wellbeing had been impacted by caring responsibilities.

A young carer is defined as someone under the age of 25 who cares for a friend or family member who, due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.* To coincide with #YoungCarersActionDay on 16th March, Creative Access conducted research and a focus group with both current and young carers to gage how this often over-looked and under-represented group can be better supported in the creative industries.

Key findings from the survey included:

  • 70% of participants were under the age of 20 when they first started caring for someone
  • 80% felt like caring had an impact on their health and wellbeing
  • 80% felt like they missed out on opportunities
  • 65% decided to not apply for a new role because of their caring responsibilities 
  • 60% felt like they were unable to network or attend industry events 
  • 30% felt like they weren’t supported in the workplace

The statistic that 70% of the participants had started caring for someone under the age of 20 is particularly shocking. Members of the focus group explained how caring at such a young – and pivotal – age actually led to a lack of opportunities such as missing out on networking and industry events due to caring responsibilities and financial constraints.

“I remember things like gap years or trips with universities or school. Those are the types of opportunities I missed out on. You do have a sense of, what if I had been able to do that. Maybe if I’d had that opportunity early, I could have progressed further in my career.”

In response to the call to action surrounding young carer’s needs within the workplace, Creative Access has created a resource directed at young carers themselves on how to navigate their caring responsibilities in the workplace, but also so employers can better understand their needs.

One member of the focus group encapsulated how employers can make this change:

“Employers need to understand that we often don’t know what the next day will be like. Things like an employer saying you can start an hour later or finish earlier and then make up the time make a real difference.”

The pandemic has disproportionately affected under-represented groups in the creative industries, and young carers in particular have been profoundly impacted by the past 2 years. A Carers Trust survey found that 78% of young adult carers aged 18 to 25 were experiencing increased concern for their futures since Coronavirus. Despite this negative impact, one positive aspect of the pandemic referenced by the participants was the benefits of working from home. As one participant emphasised:

“It’s annoying that it took a pandemic to change [attitudes to] flexible working when young carers have been around long before. It’s annoying that it took that for people to realise!”.

However, young carers expressed worries about returning to the office post-pandemic, as well as non-inclusive work cultures within the creative industries, particularly within TV:

“In the industries I work in, they expect you to come in at 7 am and finish when you finish, e.g. 9 or 10. I quickly realised it wouldn’t work, and I didn’t apply again. The nature of shift work is long and gruelling hours.”

In spite of this, Creative Access’ findings did highlight the unique skills and attributes that young carers can bring to the workplace. The participants frequently cited their empathy, time management, patience and crisis management abilities, as well as practical skills such as first aid training and Covid awareness.  Of the positive attributes that young carers bring to the workplace, one participant said:

“Being more resilient; thicker skin. If a crisis comes up at work, I don’t lose my cool – I can persevere through”.

Josie Dobrin, CEO of Creative Access says: “At Creative Access, we are constantly striving to ensure better representation and support for people from communities under-represented in the sector. As today’s research shows, young carers are a group who face specific challenges and are not currently getting the recognition and support they need at work. We are hopeful that following our findings, employers will recognise the urgent need to create inclusive workplaces that support carers and the valuable perspective this group bring to the creative industries.”

*Cited from Carer’s Trust: