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School of Arts, Languages and Cultures

Research says creativity to be more important for job growth between now and 2030

28 November 2018

A new study of 35 million UK job adverts from 2013-2017 finds that employers require creativity in jobs that are particularly likely to grow in importance in the future workforce.

Looking at 39 transferable skills, creativity is consistently identified as the most significant predictor for the likelihood of growth for an occupation between now and 2030. Other transferable skills include communication skills, team building, and successfully meeting deadlines.

Creativity and the Future of Skills is the first piece of research from the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC), and is written in partnership with Nesta researchers. The PEC is led by Nesta and is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council as part of the UK Government's Industrial Strategy. The Centre works to support the growth of the UK's creative industries through independent research and policy recommendations.

Alongside creativity, organisational and management skills are positively linked to the likelihood of the growth of an occupation. These skills are also found to be important complements to creativity, leaving creative jobs with even better prospects.

In contrast to creativity, and those skills mentioned above, requirements for other transferable skills - such as being detail-oriented, having customer service skills and basic computer skills - turn out to be negatively linked to an occupation's prospects for growth.

This result may be partly explained by advances in technology and automation. For instance, the need to be a detail-oriented writer is becoming less important with the spell check function on a computer. Similarly, although demand for interpersonal skills are predicted to grow, many customer-facing jobs on the high street (such as a supermarket checkout operator) have been replaced by machines in recent years, or have gone online. Routine-intensive 'basic computer skills' are also often associated with jobs that can be automated.

The research also analyses how the word creativity is being used in the job market. It finds that there is a strong demand for 'creativity' in particular occupations mentioned in the majority of adverts.

For instance, job adverts for Graphic designers are much more likely to mention creativity than adverts for both Management Consultants and Business Analysts (13 times more likely) and for Research and Development Managers (four times more likely). In this regard, 'creativity' isn't a term like 'communication skills' - another transferable skill that the research shows is very commonly used in job adverts.

The research also reveals that demand for 'creativity' isn't confined to occupations defined as 'creative' by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Occupations for which employers frequently request 'creativity' but are not included in the DCMS's Creative Occupations list include:

  • Florists
  • Print finishing and binding workers
  • Bakers and flour confectioners
  • Chefs
  • Hairdressers and barbers

The research also identifies a group of occupations that look similar to more traditional 'creative occupations' owing to the technical skills that they require, but again which are not typically thought of by policymakers as creative. Examples of these include engineers, manufacturing and business development roles.

Hasan Bakhshi, Director, Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre, said: "The new Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre will be producing evidence on how to grow the creative industries at a time when the UK faces huge economic uncertainties. One of the challenges we face is how to upskill the workforce to meet the UK's future needs.

"In this research, we analyse millions of job ads to work out which skills are needed for the jobs of the future. We find that of all transferable skills mentioned by employers in job ads, creativity is easily the most associated with high-growth occupations. What's more, the Government needs to think broadly about the value of creativity: the research suggests it is important in jobs as wide-ranging as engineers, manufacturing and business development, not just in roles traditionally recognised as being creative."

The full analysis, 'Creativity and the future of skills', can be viewed and downloaded from the PEC website.

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