Creative degrees are a hugely popular HE option. Are they a wise choice given the massive competition for jobs in this sector? Moving On takes a common sense look at the debate.
BY Hazel Murray
The UK has a long- standing history of excellence in the creative arts, and there has been a tradition over time of investment into the sector. Without the initial investment, society cannot support the stunning arts industry we have today.
While the government must decide how much they are willing to invest into arts courses and companies, it’s important to understand that arts are as vital to society and the economy now, as they were a hundred years ago. The arts and creative industries are worth £36 billion a year in the UK alone and employ 1.5 million people. With one of the biggest arts and entertainment industries in the world, Britain is a leading nurturer of creative minds and takes great pride in doing so.
Many people feel that taking the creative route into further or higher education will make finding a job later much harder compared to other graduates, who already have enough trouble finding jobs in this economic climate.
Whilst doing a maths degree may increase chances of landing a job sooner, without passion in the field it can only lead to a lack of enjoyment in working life. Of course, it can be argued that these creative types may need to try harder to get further, but every industry calls for people with aims and goals. The creative and cultural arts sector is no different.
The arts are just as important in the working world as academic degrees – if anything they are crucial to the development of industry. Teacher and psychologist Amanda Cofek said
Creative people think in a different way to other people, and use their initiative to think outside the box. It’s about new thinking and new ideas which are important in society; otherwise we lose originality and stay in the same place.”
In the working world, arts students may find that they have to lose money before they make money – something which suggests that these students can actually end up making less money over their lifetime than people with no equivalent qualifications. Many creative industry employers expect graduates to have done a significant amount of mostly unpaid work experience before they’ve even jumped on the jobs bandwagon or put pen to application form… This requires total dedication and a real commitment to the work they have chosen to do because they may well have to commit to a long period of full-time, unpaid work to gain the experience they need before they land their first pay cheque.
For those who really want to make it and have real talent, the answer is simple; art degrees are no riskier than other academic degrees. However, for those who lack the real appetite needed to make it – and this is also true of any degree – it’s really important to think twice before racking up a £40,000 debt on studying a subject, arts-based or not, that isn’t for you.