The Telegraph UK
Creative arts degrees, the business degree of the future?
It’s the depth of practice of an arts degree that sets it apart and makes graduates so unique, these degrees open more doors than ever before, says Mat Hunter
The value and potential of a creative arts graduate has never been higher
If you were to guess the degrees obtained by financial institutions’ employees, it is unlikely that a creative arts or design degree would be your first, or even your tenth choice.
However, there are clear signs that the boardroom of the future may hold a few more creatively trained types than you might expect.
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While a creative degree is often seen as a standalone figure in the stable of academic degree choices, there is mounting evidence that it is the uniqueness of a creative arts or design degree which is proving so attractive to employees.
A recent article from Fast Company picked up on a trend of venture capitalists recruiting designers to help them manage and select their investments. Google Ventures, the investing arm of Google, has five designers in their team.
The value and potential of a creative arts graduate has never been higher.
Firstly, the creative industry in the UK is currently just as valuable as the financial industry. Figures reveal that the UK creative industry generates more than £71billion a year for the UK, or £8million per hour.
The Government is also putting strong support behind the industry, recognising the substantial impact the sector currently makes, the future opportunities for growth and the job prospects that will go with it.
In addition, British creativity and artistic talent is recognised around the world, opening up global opportunities.
However, the influence of those with creative training stretches far beyond the traditional creative sector. Beyond venture capitalists recruiting designers to manage their funds, the Government also relies heavily on designers.
This can be seen in the recent launch of the Cabinet Office’s Policy Lab, which will help the Civil Service design policies that work better for citizens, or the award-winning Government Digital Service, which created the single online portal for government: gov.uk.
In my own job, as Chief Design Officer at the Design Council, my role includes working with social enterprises and government by using design to look at issues such as youth unemployment and the ageing population.
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As any business or public-sector leader would agree, creativity and innovation needs to be at the heart of any thriving and forward looking organisation.
The modern MBA, the world’s most successful post graduate degree, increasingly includes modules in creative thinking; but while this should absolutely be encouraged, it’s the depth of practice of an arts degree that sets it apart and makes arts graduates so unique.
While most academic models for a degree are focussed on thinking, reading and writing, an arts student will spend their time making, creating and working in teams.
Through working in studios they will build things through trial and error, learning a lot about the difference between theory and practice, so generating new ideas, not just absorbing those of others.
All of this makes them highly desirable to employees who complain about current graduates’ lack of work skills and their inability to act independently.
Despite all of this, recent research from the Arts University Bournemouth demonstrates that, from a group of young people who were put off pursuing a creatively led career, over one in five (22 per cent) didn’t feel that there were enough opportunities to progress in a career in the arts.
Additionally, over one in four (28 per cent) mentioned that they were put off by the competitive nature of the industry.
More generally, another key barrier that often arises are parents’ expectations and fear that an arts degree does not represent good value for today’s tuition fees.
To me, these barriers seem antiquated as creative arts degrees open more doors than ever before.
The UK has the best art schools in the world. If you are interested in art or design, then this is an incredible opportunity and one that can’t be replicated across the majority of degree options.
As a recent judge for the Arts University Bournemouth’s Who Are You? competition, which aims to get young people worldwide thinking more creatively, I was able to witness first-hand some fantastic young talent from around the world.
If any of these young people were put off a creative degree because they are worried about competition in the sector or were worried that they will be pigeon-holed through an arts or design degree, then I strongly encourage them to reconsider.
Any degree that fosters proactivity, lateral thinking and team work gives its graduates a key advantage and I look forward to seeing UK arts trained creativity continue to develop and be recognised in the nation’s boardrooms.
Mat Hunter, Chief Design Officer, Design Council