According to recent reports from UCAS, the number of UK applicants for design courses at universities has fallen by 5% compared to last year. That’s about 17,000 students less. Has the creative industry got less to offer, or are students missing out on an incredible opportunity to follow their artistic career ambitions?
You could argue that this drop of 5% is in line with the 4% drop in university applications overall, but that hasn’t stopped Law or Architecture, Build & Plan subjects from increasing in popularity by 3.5% and 3%, respectively. So, what other factors could be the reason for this decrease? Some people have claimed that Brexit is the cause of the disinterest in creative university courses, which may be the reason there are 900 fewer EU applicants this year (and 2,000 more non-EU applicants). However, this doesn’t explain why UK students are shunning creative subjects. The drop in university applications follows the decrease in GCSE students studying art or creative subjects in 2016, so the motivation to study creative subjects is clearly reducing.
Many industry professionals have suggested the government’s focus on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and maths) is to blame, which is in line with the government’s dismissal of a petition to make the arts part of the English Baccalaureate in 2016. After all, reducing the focus of creative subjects in schools makes it much less likely that students will go on to study creative subjects at university.
Perhaps what young people need now is a little more encouragement. In that spirit, I asked around the Dusted office to collect some testimonials from working in the creative industry. The mission was to prove that – regardless of how creative your job role is – the creative industry is the best sector to work in.
Fin (me), Content Producer: “You don’t have to wear a suit”
If there’s one thing you notice about people in Wall Street or Mad Men – I mean, after their unrelenting, below-the-surface misery – it’s the fact that they’re all dressed good an’ dapper, like. Don’t get me wrong, they look smart, but having to wear a shirt, tie, business-appropriate shoes, whatever those trousers with the crease in are called, and maintain a grooming schedule? I’d shoot myself in a day.
I started out working in TV where any dress code introduction would risk a mutiny, and coming into a design agency and still being able to wear whatever I want makes me feel very comfortable. At time of writing, I’m wearing the remains of a lampshade from a 1960s love shack and a Disney’s Ariel clam bikini.
Tyler, Social Media Exec: “Your days are rarely the same”
My favourite thing about working in the creative industry is, unsurprisingly, the opportunity to be creative. Having the chance to express your creativity through your work is very fulfilling. Also, working in the creative industry means that your days will never be exactly the same. You’ll always be doing something slightly different so you never get bored or have that feeling of monotony.
Lucy, Group Account Director: “Building rewarding relationships”
I get to meet people from lots of different industries and backgrounds and learn about what they do and how they run their business, which can be hugely inspiring. It’s really satisfying spending time getting to know a client and then presenting something that they really engage and resonate with straight away. A brand rollout or a new website is just as exciting for us as it is the client!
Rose, Designer: “Everyone is passionate about their work”
My favourite thing about being in the creative industry is that I’m in an environment surrounded by like-minded and creative people. We’re constantly bouncing ideas off one another and I know that everyone is passionate and cares about what they do. In many industries, you’ll find people working for their own benefit, but creative industry professionals tend to relish the opportunity to dedicate themselves to a project.
I came from an academic background so this office is a fun relief where I can be myself. Life tends to be restrictive in many facets, but creative work is whatever you want it to be.
Matt, Director of Creative Technology: “It’s always evolving”
It’s an industry that is in a constant state of rapid evolution. This keeps it fresh for the workforce and, while other industries also surely evolve, the speed at which it happens in ours seems pretty unprecedented, especially in the digital arena. It takes a fair bit of effort to stay on top of this continual reinvention, but it’s very rewarding.
El, Account Executive: “You get the best co-workers”
The best thing about working in this industry is having super smart, creative colleagues whose different areas of expertise bring a fresh perspective to every project. Being able to call upon this in-studio knowledge is invaluable for an accounts person.
Dave, Director and Co-founder: “It’s not law or accounting!”
My favourite thing about working in the creative industry is the fact it’s not accountancy or law! My brain – while brimming with ideas of how best to discipline malcontents in the office – is not built for navigating numbers or words in that much depth.
We’re also very much a service industry and the opportunity to shape and change businesses is a great one. The irony is just how many clients are accountants and lawyers! Always highlighting my shortcomings…
[NOTE: For those of you wondering if it’ll be easy to get a job in the design industry, Dave also has a presentation on SlideShare that will guide you through hints and tips into taking your first steps towards being a designer (but maybe skip to page 41)]
As you can see, there are some pretty convincing arguments. The common themes with the people I asked were that working in the creative industry means challenging yourself, taking pride in your work, and generally having fun (professional fun, but fun nonetheless). We also had at least three people say that wearing whatever you like to work is a major benefit. See? Working in a creative environment isn’t just about what you’re doing, it’s about the atmosphere of free thinking and comradeship.
So, students still on the fence about whether or not to move towards the creative industry, we hope this encourages you to join us! This is where all the cool kids hang out. Also me, but you don’t need to worry about that.