The Creative Graduates, Creative Futures survey – conducted by the Institute for Employment Studies – quizzed more than 3500 graduates from creative courses across the UK.
It found that 78 per cent of those surveyed were working in the creative industries, while 77 per cent said they were satisfied with their work.
This compares to a national average of 44 per cent job satisfaction, according to a 2009 survey by employment consultancy SHL Global.
However, the latest research showed that only 48 per cent of graduates were earning more than £20 000 a year, and 33 per cent were earning £15 000 or less.
It also revealed that design is the most common employment sector, with 28 per cent of graduates surveyed working in the design industry.
In addition, the research discovered that 48 per cent of graduates were engaged in ‘portfolio working’ – typically combining paid employment with self-employment or working voluntarily – while 79 per cent of employed graduates are working part-time in at least one of their jobs.
The survey showed that 45 per cent of graduates work or have worked on a freelance basis, and 42 per cent have undertaken voluntary work – including unpaid internships – since graduation.
The study was conducted by the IES, a partnership of 26 UK higher education institutions, and the Council for Higher Education in Art and Design. The project is based at and supported by the University of the Arts London.
The respondents were quizzed between September and December 2008, and asked about their working lives up to six years after gaining their first degrees.
A second stage of research was conducted in September 2009, examining graduates’ career paths and their experiences of work in the recession. These results will be published in the spring.
Writing in the foreword to the study, Will Hutton, executive vice-chairman of The Work Foundation, says, ‘What the report captures is the vigorous, if risky, world of creativity and those dedicated to work in it.’
He adds, ‘They report great job satisfaction. However, they are desperately low-paid. Many found the only entry into the industry was via unpaid internships, requiring parental support and middle-class backgrounds. The relationship is close to exploitative, even though the young men and women trying to win a foothold in the industry do not see it that way.’
Elizabeth Rouse, pro-rector of the University of the Arts London and chairwoman of the project steering group, says, ‘We in art and education need to understand more about graduates’ contribution to the success of the UK’s creative economy, how career patterns are changing, and what skills and attributes graduates need to be successful.’
Further results from the survey
- 18% of creative graduates said they were employed in a non-creative job
- 23% of respondents were self-employed or undertaking freelance work, and 18% were running a business
- 33% of respondents had experience of teaching