Stand up, be counted: the importance of the Creative Skillset Census
While the campaign to get robust sales figures to understand the size of the digital marketplace in games rages on, we mustn't lose sight of other sets of data that are equally important for our industry - namely who we are, how many of us are there, where we are and just how big our businesses are.
This week Creative Skillset, the screen sector skills agency, published their call for people to take part in the 2015 census of the creative industries workforce. The last census was done in 2012, and we know how quickly the games industry moves and changes shape. We need to understand trends and see how things are changing in the sector (or not) in order to understand how we, as your trade body, can help improve the areas that need help and celebrate where we have good news.
The questions cover areas such as working patterns, key occupations, gender and ethnicity. These are really important bits of information that policy makers, who can introduce interventions (ie help) where it is required, need. An evidenced-based approach to policy making is the only way to make effective change happen.
The results can also mean we can track how we are doing as an important part of the creative industries, compared to other screen sectors such as TV and film.
I believe one of the most useful bits of data from the census is around diversity. In 2012, the census said that the workforce in games was 14% women and 4.7% were from BAME (black, asian and minority ethnic) groups - an acronym that makes me uneasy by the way. We need to track if that has changed, and more importantly improved, but we also need to drill down in more detail to understand what occupations that 14% and 4.7% are in.
But unless enough people and businesses fill out the census, we just don't have the ability to do that with as much reliability as we like as the sample size gets too small and therefore not necessarily representative.
Data is good, data is useful, it can be used to broker good things, it can be used to influence people in powerful ways. It can be used to promote our sector and the people in it to investors, to potential partners, to the media who construct stories about us, and to the rest of the world.
Let's make sure the story of our industry has a robust dataset behind it so we can confidently tell it.
Closing date for the census questionnaire is 30 October.