Why we need to promote the creative industry in schools

Key to bringing new, diverse talent into the creative industry is to raise awareness at a school level, where the career opportunities it brings are still too often opaque and misunderstood

How do we know what we want to be when we grow up? It might be through witnessing the work our parents do, or seeing someone in a job role on TV. Maybe it’s the influence of a careers counsellor at school or university. Or maybe it’s work that was stumbled upon by accident.

The creative industry, as a whole, has always been guilty of poor visibility. When conversing with friends and family, how many people actually know what we do? Do they understand the mechanics of a mobile app’s user journey, how to send a design for a billboard to print, or even how a TV show is made? Most of the jobs that keep the industry going are not part of common knowledge at all, resulting in a looming gap between school and industry. How can you be what you don’t know exists?

Paul Davenport has been teaching for over 20 years in special educational needs schools. In his view, it’s often the parents who have conservative views on the type of job their children should go into, and worry about the prospects of the creative industry. “There is a bit of trepidation [because] they see it as a transitory career where you’re bouncing from one job to the next. A lot of parents want something more secure and stable for their children.”

Davenport is in favour of more education for parents in terms of what a creative career can offer in terms of salary and progression — in order to close this gap “the industry needs to sell itself”. The mystery surrounding the mechanics of the industry furthers this trepidation, despite the fact that parents are using phones and laptops to interact with apps, or watching TV and engaging with adverts. Davenport explains that for a lot of people, “it’s seen as being like magic”, in terms of how these things are made.