The word: Avoiding the creative talent bin

New research from the Arts University Bournemouth has found the UK is a nation of frustrated creatives, with most of us wishing we were in a career where we could make more use of our creative skills. With 97% of AUB graduates going on to employment or further study, Professor Stuart Bartholomew CBE, principal and vice-chancellor at the university, believes he has found the answer


t a time when the creative industries are growing faster than ever before, and the influence of art, design and media on our lives has never been more apparent. According to government figures, the UK’s creative industry is worth an estimated £84bn a year to the UK economy, with levels of growth far outstripping other areas of industry and accounting for over 3m jobs nationwide.

British creative know-how has featured in the international limelight for more than a decade. From theatre, to music, to design, the world has coveted our creative thinkers and doers. Investment in the sector has helped boost Britain’s creative standing.

However, according to a recent report from the Creative Industries Federation (CIF), our continued success is not set in stone. Other nations have learnt from the British model and are also beginning to invest heavily in their own creative economies. The CIF points out that China has recently made the creative industries a “main pillar” of its national economy, while Taiwan has shifted its curriculum towards the encouragement of creative thinking. Closer to home, our European neighbours such as France, Germany and Italy are doing the same. The international competition is getting tougher and we must ensure that at home we continue to support and nurture emerging and established creative talent.

As the thousands of students at AUB, and across the country on creative courses will attest, a career in the crea- tive industries is highly prized. It’s worrying then, follow- ing some recent research undertaken by AUB, that we found we found that nearly two-thirds of working adults (63%) wish they were working in a job where they could make more use of their creative skills. That’s a shockingly high number of would-be creative not currently fulfilling their ambitions of reaching their creative potential. What’s more, the UK’s creative industry could be missing out on lots of creative talent.

Despite many of us studying creative subjects at school and university, when it comes to finding a job and building a career many of us let our creative ambitions slide. For many, there seems to be a disconnect between what they study and what they go on to do as a job. At AUB this is something we are conscious of and we have actively tried to bridge the gap between study and work through initiatives such as AUB24.

This initiative sees over the course of a week our campus becoming the largest creative agency in the South East, giving students the opportunity, not only to meet with industry professionals, but also to receive a real world brief, in real time – and pitch to a real client.

Previously we have collaborated with the likes of the RNLI, Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, Larmer Tree Festival and Bridport Arts Centre. Most recently our students had the chance to work with Virgin StartUp. A fantastic disruptive brand in itself, but also a valuable opportunity for those students who will go on to start their own business to meet with industry insiders. These collaborations with established brands give students a valuable insight into the creative industries to take the first big step into their chosen careers.

As a result, at AUB 97% of our graduates go on to employment or further study. I think a large part of this success is the balance we strike between academia and teaching vo- cational skills. What’s more, I think this is a path other institutions can follow. Students shouldn’t just be “thinkers”, they also need to be ‘doers’ in equal measure. By bridging this gap, institutions can ensure their graduates are equipped with the necessary skills to enter the world of work, and hit the ground running.

To find out more about Arts University Bournemouth and the  courses on offer visit



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