We all want the best for our students. We want them to excel academically and we want to prepare them as best we can to make the transition from study to employment.
An article in the Irish Times said that, “new graduates expect authenticity from employers; want jobs with meaning and are determined to make a difference”. The nature of work is evolving and for many more millennials and Gen Z a portfolio career might be the norm.
In fact, creative arts graduates are amongst those most likely to be in a variety of jobs, often related to their degree on a part-time or freelance basis, as well as having employment elsewhere in order to secure a steady income. Let me tell you a secret, 2019 is a good time to be a creative graduate in the UK. Creative industries are, by some distance, the fastest growing sector in the UK economy.
Such positive messages get lost because the creative sector is fragmented. 95% of creative industries businesses are micro businesses of fewer than 10 employees. Around 35% of people employed in the creative industries are self- employed compared to 15% of the whole UK workforce. It is hard to get yourself heard above so many voices!
I was tasked with considering how I best prepare our creative graduates to navigate a world of employment that might be full of opportunities but whose landscape is changing. In January 2019, with the full support of senior management and course teams, we trialled Employability Fortnight. Attendance was compulsory for all Level 5 (year 2) Leeds Arts University students.
Over two weeks, we focussed on developing common core non-creative skills and attributes that students may not have explicitly discussed within their course, but employers would expect graduates from any discipline to display.
We wanted to create an opportunity for students to pause and reflect. To review where they are now, to visualise where they want to be, to identify their skill sets (creative and non-creative), to consider their career options and to think proactively about further skills development and employment strategies.
Throughout the fortnight:
On 19 March, IPSE return to the University as we are hosting their Freelancing for Students event. This event is free to attend and you and your students are welcome to join us.
Employability Fortnight was successful. I will make changes based on feedback but I am keen to share ideas and good practice with colleagues from other institutions. If you have any comments or questions please do get in touch.
Andrew Jones, Leeds Arts University