Small Talk: It’s vital for start-ups that we nurture creative talent

 

Conflicting interpretations of the figures published by exam boards in recent weeks have prompted much debate over the current state of Britain’s education system.

While many have been cheered by the news that more students than ever secured their first choice of university, others have expressed alarm as GCSE grades dropped for a second successive year, plummeting by a record margin.

A worrying trend that has emerged reveals an unhealthy bias in the education system, and threatens to suffocate economic growth if not adequately addressed. Data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) shows university students are shunning arts and humanities courses in favour of more practical subjects they see as more likely to burnish their employment credentials.

More young people are taking science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects at A-level while applications for Stem degrees are up by 4.4 per cent this year, and by more than a quarter in the past five years.

Ever since annual tuition fees were tripled to a minimum of £9,000 last year, one parent in 10 now advises their child to choose a vocational course, such as law or accountancy, to give them a better chance of a job.

This tilt towards the Stem subjects does an injustice to creative study, and unfairly implies the arts make a lesser contribution to the economy. At the root of the problem lies a distorted interpretation of the economic value of creative industries, as well as what is needed for a well-rounded economy. The irony of this perception is that it is entirely contradicted by the performance of the creative industries, which generate £70,000 a minute and account for 10 per cent of exports.

This misguided view undervalues one of the main strengths of the UK’s education system, recognised the world over for the richness of its creative and artistic traditions.

Nor does it ring true to say that the arts are incompatible with business. Research by Oxford University last month showed that, far from limiting their career options by opting to study the likes of history or English, arts graduates work across the economy’s key sectors. One need only look at the chief executives charged with running FTSE 100 companies – 34 per cent of whom have an arts background.

More often than not, a creative background is invaluable in business, prompting innovative and original thinking of the kind not encouraged by scientific study. Sir Jonathan ‘Jony’ Ive, an Essex-born design graduate, is now described as the most valuable Briton after helping turn Apple into the world’s most successful tech company.

My social enterprise, School for Creative Startups, was established to encourage those with an artistic bent to use their talents to set up businesses that will fuel the UK’s creative economy. We run programmes in London and Kent but intend to expand elsewhere.

There’s a broad international demand for British products and services across sectors that depend on the creative industries. The strength of Britain’s creative industries means that the UK is in a unique position to cater for the world’s needs, whether by supplying writing staff for Hollywood blockbusters or designers for fashion houses.

By diminishing the importance of the creative industries, we do a disservice to people with a natural inclination towards the arts and humanities. Whether due to pushy parents or a result of the Government’s obsession with pursuing Stem subjects, not enough time is afforded to encouraging young people to adopt a career that would allow them to flourish.

Instead, there’s an expectation that people should pursue vocations in which they are unlikely ever to excel. By pushing too many young people towards careers that only serve the economy rather than help it to expand, Britain is heading towards a skills imbalance that will prove damaging in the long run.

Of course we need the service industries, but we also need the designers, architects, ad men and composers who provide the products that encourage people to invest in British industry.

Doug Richard is founder of School for Creative Startups. For more information on the Kent programme visit: www.schoolforcreativestartups.com/kent/programme/ or growforiteastkent.com.

New well has Nostra Terra on right trail

Aim-listed Nostra Terra Oil & Gas has had a good summer. The explorer kicked off drilling at its seventh well in the Chisholm Trail prospect in Oklahoma earlier this month, and is expected  to announce a new well in another American  state soon.

At the Chisholm Trail, Nostra Terra works with operators across 21 potential locations in the Hunton formation in the area, and this seventh well effectively doubles the potential size and opportunities of its prospect there.

Every well the group has drilled in the area has exceeded expectations. It is in a new oil formation for the group – the Mississippi Lime formation, which is known to be oil rich . Investors hope it will improve cash flow, which will help the group fund new wells.

Small Businessman of the Week: Duane Jackson,  founder, KashFlow

I grew up in children’s homes in the East End of London and left school at 15 with no qualifications.

I ended up serving a five-year prison sentence for drug trafficking. On my release, I couldn’t get a job. So, since I’d taught myself computer programming as a teenager, I decided to use those skills to become a self-employed web developer.

All the software I looked at to help me do my invoicing and keep accounts was utterly awful – clunky, confusing and used lots of jargon. So I decided to write a web-based app for my own use. Eventually I realised every other owner-manager of a small business had the same problem, so I started making my own product available for others to use – and KashFlow was born in 2006.

I was fortunate in my timing: web-based software has now become the norm, and revenues have doubled year-on-year. I can see lots of other small-business areas that would benefit from the same approach: remove the jargon, and make it easy to use with no training.

David Prosser is away.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick