Skip to content

Employment Prospects for Arts Grads

ArtsImage
According to an article by Patricia Cohen, a recent survey suggests employment prospects for Arts graduates are about the same as for students in business or science.

Cohen reports,

“Prospective students who are wondering whether to major in business or art in this harsh economic climate might want to take a look at a survey of arts graduates. The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project based at Indiana University, which tracks the lives and careers of arts graduates, has recently released one. The results of the 2010 online survey include responses from more than 13,500 students who were in fine arts, theater, dance, music, creative writing, media arts, film, design and architecture programs and graduated in the past 15 or so years from 154 arts high schools, undergraduate and graduate institutions.

“Although the respondents did not represent a random sample, the survey found that 92 percent of alumni who want to work are doing so (the unemployment rate for April in the United States was 9 percent), while two-thirds said their first job was a close match for the kind of work they desired. Fifty-seven percent are working as professional artists, but don’t be surprised if your bedroom doubles as your office. More than 6 in 10 were self-employed since graduation. Working or not, 9 out of 10 reported they were pleased with their art training, and three out of four would attend the same institution again.

“About 30 percent of former professional or aspiring artists went into another career because of their school loans and other debts.”

The following link will take you to the survey results.

Closer to home, Dr. John Bratton, Professor of Sociology, has prepared a report for us as an input into the Arts Five Year Planning Process. Bratton finds that  “[i]n periods of economic recession, students and parents focus on employability issues when making decisions on university or college education.” His pilot survey was undertaken to provide an informed view on employers’ demand for employable skills; and the evidence from employers shows “that there are five broad generic skills – social, research, problem-solving, communication, and technology – considered to be important when considering employing a new graduate.” He uses the acronym SMART to denote the cluster or skill sets identified as most important by the respondents: demonstrated skills that are social, methodological, analytical, rhetorical, and technological in nature.

In a related article, published in SSHRC’s Dialogue magazine, David Weir argues that social sciences and humanities graduates remain in demand in Canada’s federal public service:

“The federal public service,” says Weir, “is always in need of employees with the skills and interests developed through studies in the social sciences and humanities. In fact, many graduates from these disciplines find being a public servant particularly fulfilling as it also allows them to serve the public interest, make a difference in the world and improve the lives of their fellow Canadians.”  To read the full article, click on this link.

Or, for those of you wanting a more philosophical perspective, consider the thoughts of my friend Bruce Janz, who chairs the Philosophy Department at the University of Central Florida. Bruce says that when, as a humanities graduate, you ask about job prospects “[w]hat you really are asking is about whether the humanities will help you identify a vocation. We sometimes talk about careers as “vocations,” which in the Latin root (vocatio) literally refer to a calling, a summons, or an invitation (think of other English words that use the same root – e.g., vocalize, invoke, evoke). “Vocation” is often used in religious circles – people are called to be clergy. But the term really refers to the connection between life and action, between who you are and what you do. To have a vocation is to do the thing that makes you the best of what you can be. A real career is a vocation – you know you’re in the right place, doing the right thing for yourself.”  To read his full take on this issue, click here.

One Comment

  1. A, Executive Summary from Bratton Report:

    In periods of economic recession, students and parents focus on employability
    issues when making decisions on university or college education. With this
    backdrop, this is a repoft of a pilot survey undeftaken to provide an informed
    view on employers’demand for employable skills.

    Evidence from employers show that there are five broad generic skills – social,
    research, problem-solving, communication, and technology – considered to be
    important when considering employing a new graduate.

    The report uses the acronym SMART to denote the cluster or skill sets indentified
    important by the respondents: social, methodological, analytical, rhetoric, and
    technology. With respect to curricula redesign, the report recommends the
    following to increase the supply of SMART skills:

    Recommendation#1: state the learning outcomes, pafticularly drawing attention
    to SMART skills learned in BA programs and courses.

    Recommendation #2: incorporate into BA programs more student-centred
    learning, where, subject to negotiation, a larger element of the learning is under
    the control of the student.

    Recommendation#3: an interdisciplinary research project should be introduced
    as a 4th-year’cap-stone’ 12-credit component of the BA program. Entry into the
    cohort would be limited, competitive, and require a senior-level prerequisite
    course in research methods.

    Recommendation#4: a mandatory 2no-year research methods course should be
    introduced into all BA programs.

    Recommendation#5: the Faculty of Arts needs to develop a marketing strategy
    aimed at students, parents, and employers that draws attention to the value of a
    BA degree in general, and to SMART-related skills in particular.

    Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *
*
*