Students of art `have no chance of getting jobs'

THOUSANDS OF students studying art and design, two of Britain's most popular and fastest-growing subjects, have no hope of getting jobs in their fields, the head of a leading art college said yesterday.

Professor Christopher Frayling, the rector of the Royal College of Arts, said graduates were being forced to find work in business, the civil service and other sectors.

"There are a hell of a lot of young artists being produced," he said. "All those people can't get work. It is wrong for them to have the carrot of a professional career as an artist or designer dangled in front of them. That was all right in the 1950s when the world was different, but it [a guaranteed job] is no longer true today."

As many as 72,000 people are studying courses in art and design at degree level and below, at British colleges and universities for at least three years. That is more than the population of Florence in the Renaissance, said Professor Frayling. It should be made clear to these students that they probably will not get work as professional artists, he said.

But art and design provided a very good education in life skills, insisted the head of the college that educated the artists David Hockney and Tracey Emin. It encouraged an individual approach to problem solving and gave students self- confidence. Art and design degrees, he added, were like history degrees a generation ago, but they prepared students for the new creative economy rather than the industry- led Britain of the past.

Although art and design courses teach different skills from the old arts and humanities degrees - a creative approach to decision-making rather than the rational and logical skills of essay-writing - they are replacing those traditional degrees in the eyes of young people, Professor Frayling argued. Many more students study art and design now than history, and parents are positively encouraging their offspring to do these subjects because they make sense in a world consumed with spin, style, glamour and the Internet.

Professor Vaughan Grylls, director of the Kent Institute for Art and Design, agreed that the subject was well-suited to training young people for the new economy, but said that a lot of his graduates found work in the exploding media and communications industries. They don't always land the most creative work, he said: "They won't necessarily be the next John Galliano, but they might be working in fashion behind the scenes, reconfiguring designs for the mass market."

But Professor Alan Smithers of the education department at Liverpool University poured scorn on the notion that art and design degrees could replace history in their usefulness. "There isn't much skill to these subjects," he said. "You just need to come up with an extraordinary idea that captures people's attention, like an unmade bed or running a Buster Keaton movie, again and again.

"With an academic subject you are developing logical, systematic thinking. You are creating pictures of the world which you are checking against evidence. With design studies, you are operating in terms of images which may illuminate life for some people and be a lot of fun at that stage in your life."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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 General

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Professional Services Firm - Oxford

£21000 - £24000 per annum + 21 days holidays: Ashdown Group: Technical Support...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor