What are the creative industries of the future?

A report published in June 2015 by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills calls for schools to focus on giving young people a combination of technical and creative skills (here)

Photo: Johan Larsson

Photo: Johan Larsson, creative industries

This brought to mind an unexpected conversation I had a couple of months ago.

I needed to find out the stats behind a website and app for a project I was evaluating. I phoned the man who had designed them and he explained the difference between number of visits and unique visitors; that having 94% of app downloads on iOS reflects the dominance of Apple in the smartphone market etc.

At the end of the conversation he said, “by the way Ruth, you might not remember me, but I was in the youth theatre you ran in Cynon Valley.” This was an OMG moment. The youth theatre was 20 years ago, so we had a lovely 5 minutes reminiscing.

I wonder what careers advice he would have got in the early 1990s. Heavy industry had gone from Cynon with the exception of the valiant worker-owned Tower Colliery. Things looked bleak for young men in the Valleys. What I can be absolutely sure about is that no one said “go to university and get yourself into the Creative Industries.” Do you remember the world when websites didn’t exist? When sending an email took ages and was presaged by that buzzing of  the dial up? When mobile phones were bricks that yuppies used?

This young person continued down a creative path, which he combined with an interest in technology and by the early 2000s he had his own company making websites – and more recently apps.

Yes, lets encourage a combination of technical and creative skills in our schools. But what’s more interesting for me is the impossibility of predicting areas of growth in the future. In 20 years time it will be 2035. I’m hoping there’ll be new, green, sustainable, equitable industries that we can’t even imagine yet. Just as 20 years ago we couldn’t imagine that a young lad in the Cynon Valley would be making a living designing apps.

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