Finding 5: Employability

Employability of students who study arts subjects is higher and they are more likely to stay in employment

The creative economy accounts for one in 11 jobs in the UK (DCMS, 2016: p.5).

NESTA found in 2015 that 87% of highly creative jobs are at low or no risk of automation, compared with 40% of jobs in the UK workforce as a whole (Bakhshi et al, 2015).

A study using the Scottish School Leavers Survey database found that Amongst young people leaving school at the earliest opportunity, employability is generally higher for those that had studied arts subjects. The same study also found that:

‘When employability is controlled for the number of years spent in school, young people that studied arts subjects tend to have higher employability and are more likely to maintain employment than those that did not study arts subjects. In addition, young people who took 2 or more arts subjects at standard grade tend to have a higher rate of employment than those who took only 1 arts subject.’ (DTZ, 2006)

We know from the CASE programme that structured arts activity leads to increases in transferable skills of 10–17% (2010: p.29), and findings from the Centre for the Economics of Education at LSE show that transferable skills improve labour market outcomes (Carneiro et al, 2007 & Feinstein, 2000). 


Bakshi, Hasan, Frey, Carl Benedikt and Osborne, Michael. Creativity vs Robots: The Creative Economy and the Future of Employment (London: Nesta, 2015) 

Carneiro, Pedro, Crawford, Claire and Goodman, Alissa. The Impact of Early Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills on Later Outcomes (London: Centre for the Economics of Education, 2007) 

Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). Creative Industries Focus on Employment (London: DCMS, 2016) 

DTZ Consulting & Research. Arts Employability, Executive Summary (Edinburgh: Scottish Executive Education Department, 2006) 

Feinstein, Leon. The Relative Economic Importance of Academic, Psychological and Behavioural Attributes Developed in Childhood (London: Centre for Economic Performance, 2000)