Walsall College is urging school leavers and adults looking for a career change to consider the rewards enrolling on a creative course can offer, after finding that students who have an interest in these courses don’t realise the range of transferable skills they could learn and diverse roles these skills could lead to.
Head of Curriculum for Creative Industries at Walsall College, David Turner, says: “Studying courses like art and design, media production, fashion, dance, music and performing arts, can lead to careers in a fast growing and exciting industry, but they also offer a wide range of skills relevant to almost any industry, should graduates decide to change direction in the future.
“As well as developing their creativity and technical ability, skills like creative thinking, communicating, problem solving and presenting are the fundamental principles that are covered on these courses. Degree level courses at the college also can develop mangerial and leadership potential, useful in any industry.”
He adds: “These skills generate the type of credentials that make people more employable. Technical skills may get you an interview but it’s so often the case that these so-called ‘soft’ skills will get you the job and ensure you stay responsive and flexible to future opportunities.
“We live in an age where employers need to constantly come up with new ideas to remain competitive, which means they need people in their workforce who can think outside the box.
“That said, it’s often the case that when choosing their post-GCSE options, students who excel in creative subjects at school are often influenced into choosing more so-called ‘academic’ subjects which are ‘considered’ more likely to lead to jobs. However recent research actually tells a different story.”
The UK creative industry is currently growing three times faster than any type of industry and is worth £80 billion per year to the UK economy.*1 Whilst London might be leading the way, the West Midlands is keeping pace with forecast data showing that employment is expected to increase by 4,300 (3.8%) between now and 2022 in the region.*2
Former Walsall College Performing Arts student, Sunjay Midda, 19, achieved his Level 3 qualification in August 2015 and by December he had already made his TV debut on BBC serial drama ‘Doctors’. Sunjay said: “After completing my GCSEs, I initially stayed on at sixth form to do A-levels and tried a few different courses, but deep down my dream was to be an actor. I gained a lot of experience at college and developed my skills performing in a range of shows. I also learnt a lot about the business side of things on the course, which really prepared me for what the industry is like. I’m now working alongside experienced actors in a job I love.”
David added: “The college has produced many designers, artists and musicians, from Luke Roper who has his own stores across the UK to Karl Brazil, the drummer for Feeder, over the years, but one of the other reasons our courses are so highly rated is they offer flexibility in way they develop the individual. Many students have used their skills to pursue careers in a range of less obvious industries including marketing, sales, counselling and management.”
Former Walsall College Media student, Maria Woodhouse had a successful career as a radio producer but when she decided she wanted a change in direction, she found that her capabilities opened up a number of opportunities that she had never considered before. She commented: “Nearly all jobs require you to have excellent communication skills and an adaptable approach, so when I was considering my options the scope of what I could do, having studied a creative course, spanned quite far.
“I’m now working as a careers advisor and find it very rewarding guiding young people through their choices. Many assume that what they choose to study now will predict what career they do for the next fifty years, so it’s good for them to see that there are courses which can also leave their options more open.”
For freelance illustrator, Estelle Morris, who studied Foundation Art and Design at Walsall College, having creative skills meant she had the tools she needed to set up her own business. She said: “At college I was encouraged to try new things with my work and now I relish being my own boss. I have a range of clients both in the UK and around the world as well as running my Etsy shop selling illustration prints and products.”
To find out more about Walsall College’s creative courses or to apply, visit www.walsallcollege.ac.uk or attend the open day on Thursday 17th March, 4pm – 7pm