The West Midlands is at the centre of a creative jobs boom with almost 20,000 new roles in just three years, official figures revealed.
The increase was hailed by business leaders as evidence the region, traditionally known as a manufacturing heartland, was also able to attract and nurture creative firms, particularly those in the IT and computer software industries.
The number of jobs in the creative industries rose from 78,000 in 2011 to 94,000 in 2013 in the West Midlands, an increase of 20 per cent over three years, new figures from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport show.
In the same period, the overall total number of jobs in the region rose by just three per cent - illustrating the key role creative industries can play in creating wealth and employment in the region.
But a report on the creative industries published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport also highlights some of the challenges facing the region, as the industry depends disproportionately on graduate labour.
And MP Gisela Stuart warned the region needed to provide better support for the small- and medium-sized businesses which tend to make up the creative sector.
The West Midlands has traditionally struggled to attract graduates and to retain those who study at Midland universities.
Nationally, around 38 per cent of the potential workforce are graduates but in the West Midlands the figure is just 28 per cent.
In London, 48 per cent of the potential workforce - defined as people aged 21 to retirement age who are not on an educational course - are graduates.
The biggest rise was in IT, software and computer services, where employment shot up from 29,000 to 43,000, up by 48 per cent.
There was also a significant increase in jobs in music, performing arts and visual arts, up from 10,000 to 12,000.
And the number of jobs in film, TV, video, radio and photography rose from 6,000 to 9,000 while the number of jobs in publishing fell from 11,000 to 8,000.
Other parts of the country have also seen an increase in creative jobs but the national rise is just 10 per cent over three years.
There has also been an increase in jobs in what the Government calls the "creative economy" which includes jobs in any sector of the economy where the work can be classified as creative.
These rose from 142,000 to 163,000 in the West Midlands over three years, an increase of 14 per cent.
The West Midlands economy may be benefiting from its large ethnic minority population, as government figures show they are statistically more likely to be employed in the key IT and computer software industries.
While black and minority ethnic workers make up roughly 10.2 per cent of the workforce, they account for 15.1 per cent of workers in computing.
The new figures follow the success of last month's "Birmingham Day" event in the House of Commons, which showcased the region's creative industries to an audience of MPs and peers.
Birmingham MP Gisela Stuart (Lab Edgbaston), who organised the event, called for more support for creative firms.
She said: "The figures shows that we are right to pay more attention to the job creation potential of the creative industries.
"We are strong in IT, software and computer services in terms of jobs but, when it comes to skills and talent, we can do better still in performing and visual arts and music.
"That's where our universities, the Arts Council and the BBC have a significant role to play.
"The real challenge is that the majority of employers are small and medium-sized enterprises and we need to help them to support the young people the greater Birmingham region."
UKTI, the official body responsible for helping British firms succeed overseas, highlighted the success of Midland firms as it launched a new Creative Industries International Strategy, which aims to double the value of creative industries exports to £31 billion, double the amount of creative services companies that export and drive increased inward investment to the UK's creative industries.
Paul Noon, UK Trade & Investment regional director for the West Midlands, said: "Creative businesses are at the heart of what we do in the West Midlands, they stand on their own as world beaters, such as sculptural lighting company, Scabetti in Leek, Staffordshire and Gotham Records in Birmingham, but also provide the magic that makes our manufactured products some of the most sought after in the world.
"Without design engineering, the cars we make would just be chunks of metal and our high-value ceramics industry just hardened clay.
"Our creative skills are vital to the future of our economy and I welcome this strategy to grow this sector even further."
Scabetti produce bone china sculptures which can act as lamps or lampshades but also as works of art.
Gotham Records, run by Birmingham entrepreneur Barry Tomes, works with artists such as rock band 400 Horses and singer Victoria Perks.
The business recently opened offices in Los Angeles and France with support from UKTI.
But Mr Tomes said UKTI could do more to help the creative sector if it was better funded.
He said: "I can't praise the staff of UKTI enough for all they have done. UKTI has the vision but they just don't have any money."
Across the UK, 8.5 per cent of jobs are in the creative economy.
The figure for the West Midlands is just 6.6 per cent but this is actually higher than most parts of the country.
The national figure includes London, where 16.2 per cent of jobs are in the creative economy, out of step with the rest of the UK.
In the North West, for example, 6.3 per cent of jobs are in the creative economy.
Across the country, 58 per cent of jobs in the creative economy were filled by people who have a degree or higher qualification in 2013, compared to 31.1 per cent of all jobs in the UK.
Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham, said: "From digital to design and film to fashion, the area's creative industries are making encouraging strides, currently contributing some £1.25 billion to the local economy.
"Named the UK's most entrepreneurial regional city this year by StartUp Britain, more and more companies are recognising that the talent is here and there is a growing ecosystem that can support their expansion plans."
Nationwide, employment within the UK creative industries sector has increased five times faster than the national average, according to the Department for Culture Media and Sport figures.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, MP for Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, said: "The UK's creative industries are a huge success story and powerful force in driving economic growth.
"These figures demonstrate the sector is punching well above its weight and government is committed to ensuring the right conditions are in place to allow the sector to continue to flourish."
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