Creative graduates face long-term recession effects, report shows

While many recent graduates from creative courses are using flexible freelance work to ride out the effects of the recession, the long-term impact of this could be career stagnation, a new survey finds.

The Creative Career Stories report, from University of Arts London and the Institute of Employment Studies, saw 3500 UAL graduates quizzed.

It finds that, in spite of increased competition, some graduates were able to find contract and freelance work, as clients preferred to employ smaller, more flexible and cheaper companies or freelances than larger consultancies.

However, there was a fear that in the longer term freelances could become jobbing creatives, with little opportunity to take on management or development responsibilities.

The Creative Career Stories report follows on from the Creative Graduates Creative Futures study published in January, which found that 77 per cent of graduates surveyed were satisfied with their current work and 62 per cent expected to be self-employed or running a business in the next five years.

The second study focuses less on statistical analysis and more on case studies, as it attempts to track the careers of arts, design and communications graduates between five and seven years after graduation.

Professor Elizabeth Rouse, deputy rector of University of Arts London, says, ‘These stories bring into sharp focus the challenges of making a career in the creative and cultural sector and the adaptability that graduates need as they make the transition from education to employment.’

She adds, ‘There is a great deal educators can do to help students start and sustain a career. A successful creative graduate needs a strong work ethic, resourcefulness and good industry contacts, all attributes that can be developed well before graduation.’

The report also shows that many graduates would like their courses to help them build contacts and understand the best methods of finding work, get work placements and industry experience through projects and understand professional requirements and client needs.

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