Skillset Employment Census 2009 (PDF link, 700kb). Taken in July 2009, the results are now available. They estimate that the West Midlands has a combined employed/freelancer total of 5,950. Strip out occupational groups like management, engineering, sales, “journalism and sport”, roadies etc., and the total might drop to a ‘creative core’ of somewhere around 3,000 people.

Of course, Skillset are only dealing with a subset of the creative economy. And they’re not winkling out the creative jobs that exist in a far wider set of cultural/heritage activities. As I suggested earlier on D’log, at 2006/7 we might have had as many as 20,000 ‘creative core’ jobs in the West Midlands. Of course, that’s an estimate and measuring the creative industries in the UK is notoriously difficult. One of the many problems of counting is that creatives often hold two or more jobs simultaneously. If statistics only count the main one, much can be missed. The Skillset census is valuable in that respect because it invites creatives to self-select to fill out an online survey. That self-selection may well significantly skew some of the results, but at least it’s a welcome alternative to trying to use the official statistics.