STEAM Briefing published with Nesta

26 October 2017

A new briefing published jointly today by the Cultural Learning Alliance and Nesta sets out the need to shift the policy focus on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) by adding the A of arts – turning STEM into STEAM.

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With the number of people working in the creative industries growing at four times the rate of the UK workforce as a whole, there is a clear demand in the job market and an obvious economic imperative. 

“The case for STEAM has been made. We now need a cross-disciplinary STEAM approach embedded in our schools to provide children with the knowledge, essential skills and attributes required to play an active and successful role in our highly competitive, fast-changing digital world.” 
Ian Livingstone CBE

Students studying a broad range of subjects, including science, technology, engineering arts and mathematics, are better prepared for the job market, with the skills valued by employers. They are also better prepared for jobs which will be resistant to automation: research by Nesta, the innovation foundation, has shown that 87% of jobs in creative occupations – which value a mix of STEAM skills – are at low or no risk of automation compared to 40% of jobs as a whole.

STEAM skills add value for businesses. Firms that make use of both arts and science skills show higher levels of growth and innovation than companies that don’t. The UK’s persisting productivity gap was identified as a major issue in the government’s Industrial Strategy earlier this year – making the need for STEAM ever more urgent.

Hasan Bakhshi, Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics at Nesta points out:

"All the statistics show that the creative economy – economic activity which involves the use of creative talent for commercial purposes – is one of the fastest growing parts of the UK workforce. Consistent with this, we know that businesses that combine art and science skills – a hallmark of creativity – show higher sales growth. This has an important implication for policy: namely, it must not disincentivise young people from pursuing a broad-based education."

STEAM is essential for creating a workforce that solves the problems of the future – which means that students need to study a broad range of subjects that includes the arts.

“Transforming the core curriculum from STEM to STEAM is essential. The UK film and TV industries are thriving and when we launched our UK films skills strategy this year we identified that an estimated 10,000 new entrants are needed for the film industry alone over the next five years. We must act to ensure the workforce of tomorrow has the necessary education in schools to equip them to join this dynamic sector. This is not a ‘nice to have’ but an ‘urgent must’ in order to grow the UK’s economy through the creative industries.” 
Amanda Nevill CBE, CEO of the BFI

Download the briefing.