A few weeks ago, I wrote in the Guardian about the fact courses need to be more diverse and reflect changes in the media landscape. The article was met with both applause and disagreement – some said it hit the nail on the head, others argued that businesses shouldn’t expect universities to train their future staff. Regardless, the students’ experiences should be at the heart of course development.
Some of my former students now have successful media careers: one is an editor on BBC Breakfast, another the chair of a global non-profit and another a successful social media manager for a luxury brand. Yet much of what got them there wasn’t the content of their lessons. Their testimonies have made me understand that media courses need to be updated to meet the skillsets required of those aiming for careers in the creative industries: from film production to journalism, gaming to digital marketing. We need to have cutting-edge courses to keep up with the fast pace of change. And this is not always evident from what is delivered in classrooms of some degree programmes
Looking to industry
This is not just my opinion; research says the same thing. A report undertaken by the Work Foundation for the British Film Institute in 2017 raised concerns by employers around education and skills training. The audit found current provision not fit for purpose, with a confusing array of initiatives, limited careers advice and guidance, and a lack of clear progression routes from education to work.
One effective way to ensure that students are learning the right skills is to integrate vocational studies with industry. This can be through placements and internships, or through bringing media practitioners to the students. This already happens in applied sciences and business courses. This does not alter the need for academics for some parts of the student journey: just because someone is successful in industry does not mean they can teach creative, digital or entrepreneurial skills.
The best media courses will diversify their provision to future-proof students as much as possible for a career in the creative industries. This isn’t the easy option, but it is arguably the most rewarding, both for educators and their cohorts.
Find out more about our BA (Hons) Content, Media & Film Production.