Report summary: Creative Graduates Creative Futures

Creative Graduates Creative Futures was a major longitudinal study undertaken between 2008 and 2010 of the early career patterns of more than 3,500 graduates in practice-based art, design, crafts and media subjects, qualifying in 2002, 2003 and 2004 from 26 UK higher education institutions.

Key findings

  • Three out of four graduates had worked in the creative industries and in their field of expertise since graduating. At the time of the survey, four out of five graduates were in paid work, the majority in creative jobs and achieving their career goals.
  • Portfolio careers were well established, with 48 per cent of graduates in multiple jobs at the time of the survey, typically combining employment with self-employment, study or developing their creative practice.
  • Forty-five per cent of graduates had worked freelance since graduating, and at the time of the survey 23 per cent were self-employed and 18 per cent were running a business.
  • Seventy-seven per cent of working graduates were positive about their current work, enjoying the ability to be creative, having autonomy and potential for future opportunities, with 79 per cent in work they felt related significantly to art, craft, design or media.
  • Thirty-three per cent of graduates had experience of teaching in their early careers and 18 per cent were teaching at the time of the survey. Unpaid work is a common strategy for job-seeking or learning new skills, with 42 per cent undertaking voluntary experience since graduating.
  • Creative graduates had developed skills required for their careers on their undergraduate courses, rating most highly creativity and innovation, visual skills and presentation, but they had less well-developed IT, networking and client-facing skills.
  • After graduation, 72 per cent had undertaken further study or informal learning of some kind, with more than one-quarter of graduates returning to HE to study at a higher level.
  • Graduates aspire to creative careers and achieving a good life/work balance, their career goals aligning with their subject disciplines and their career plans most influenced by a strong desire for new learning and the pursuit of creative practice above high earnings.

Download the full 12-page executive summary.