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Why work in the creative sector?

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Published: 3 July 2018

Thinking about a creative degree but unclear about the career prospects? Here are some compelling reasons for a career in the creative sector.

What’s the career?

Working in the creative sector is all about following your passion for originality – using your imagination to develop new ideas and techniques and to challenge the norm. Careers in the creative sector can span a diverse range of art forms and the University of Sunderland offers many routes into this exciting career choice. Our courses include animation, ceramics, dance, fashion design, film, fine art, glass, graphics, illustration, journalism, media production, music, performing arts and photography.

A student working in the TV studio  

Increasingly, creative workers follow a ‘portfolio’ career comprising a range of distinct roles, both employed and freelance. This makes for a really flexible lifestyle enabling you to extend your professional contacts, build your artistic or creative practice and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Almost half of creative workers are self-employed, compared to 15% across the workforce as a whole and 95% of creative businesses are micro businesses with less than ten employees. Working for a micro business means that you’ll quickly pick up valuable transferable skills, take on more responsible roles and move quickly up the career ladder.

Reputation and fastest growing sector

As a creative worker, you’ll be entering a profession in which Britain excels – as a nation we’re highly ranked internationally for our contemporary culture and cultural heritage. There are more than ¼ million businesses in the creative industries and they’re worth £92 billion, growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy. The sector employs 2 million people and accounts for 1 in 11 jobs in the UK.

Between 2010 and 2016, creative industries have grown in every region of the UK. In particular, creative industries in the North East and Scotland grew by 47%. Here at Sunderland, we have the BBC and MadeTV based in our media building along with our own SparkFM radio station and our students have the opportunity to get real-life experience with the Culture Company, which supports and develops culture across Sunderland. We’re well equipped to help you start your creative business through our business start-up service, The Enterprise Place. We offer expert advice, support, preliminary funding, a place on a business planning course and access to state-of-the-art office space and facilities for you to turn your ideas into a business.

Creative roles less likely to be replaced by automation

Research shows that the creative industries are on average at low or no risk of automation compared to other industries. The skills used in innovation aren’t easily replaceable by a machine and, in fact, computers complement most creative processes, making creative skills more productive. Think about how computers have enhanced creative work in fashion design, photography, music and film production. Here at Sunderland, our courses enable students to use cutting-edge technology to enhance their creative work including broadcast quality TV studios, SparkFM radio station, a FabLab, specialist music technology suites, over 40 high-end digital camera systems, a digital design suite as well as traditional studios, darkrooms and specialist workshops.

My images have appeared regularly in the pages of magazines like FHM, Brides Magazine and different fashion glossies. As far as I’m concerned, this is just the best job in the world. The University of Sunderland taught me the skills to make a living as a photographer and the tutors gave me a way into the industry. My course crystallised my ambition and changed my life.”

Luke Newman, Portrait and Fashion Photographer

Stronger performance for companies fusing art and science

And it’s not only the creative sector that benefits from your passion for innovation. Creativity is highly valued by firms working outside the creative sector. Research by NESTA, the UK’s innovation foundation, proves that businesses harnessing both art and science outperform their competitors in terms of sales, employment, productivity and innovation. The research demonstrates that ‘fused’ companies combining the arts and science disciplines in their workforce show 8% higher sales growth than science-only firms.

How we prepare you for a creative career

Whilst studying with the University of Sunerland, we’ll give you the best opportunities to break into the creative sector. You’ll have access to state-of-the-art facilities and be taught by industry experts with well-established reputations as professional artists or journalists. They’ll encourage you to explore your creative ideas, develop your own approach and build a professional portfolio. You’ll also benefit from attending guest lectures, field trips and placement opportunities giving you access to professional contacts and real life work experience in the creative sector.

BA (Hons) Photography, Video and Digital Imaging graduate Luke Newman utilised his tutors’ wide industry contacts to establish himself in his dream job as a freelance photographer after graduating.

As well as establishing their own creative businesses or working freelance, many University of Sunderland graduates have gone onto careers in high profile and respected cultural and media companies, including Antony Gormley Studio, the Hepworth Museum, Crafts Council, Abercrombie and Fitch, River Island, All Saints, Sky, MTV, Grazia, The Guardian, BBC Radio 1 and Sky TV.