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Bad Time To Graduate For Creatives-- Let's Change That

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on May 16, 2009

Students graduating in the “creative” industries are terrified about job prospects and the official government figures support that fear. Mike Mandel breaks out the bad-news numbers and they are awful. The only positive thing to say is that the decline in jobs for creatives appears to be bottoming out, setting the stage for a rebound in 2010 (or maybe by year-end 2009).

The hardest-hit creatives are in design, media, the arts, writing, photography, music, dance, entertainment and sports. Architects are lumped in with engineers in government statistics—and they’re both down sharply.

Here is Mike’s table of employment woe:


percent change in employment
August ‘08- April ‘09*

Computer and mathematical occupation -9.3%

Engineering and architecture occupations -10.3%

Life, physical, and social science occupations -2.3%

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations -11.5%

So here’s a tip to mayors and CEOs and non-profits and consultancies around the world—BUY creative capital NOW. It’s CHEAP. Six, months, a year from now, when the global economy is picking up steam, creativity will cost a lot more.

One concept from my graduating students at Parsons—Mayor Bloomberg and other mayors around the US listen up—spend a few million bucks for internships for grads this summer. Corporations are cutting back on interns (they are idiots, by the way, since interns are the cheapest form of fresh creativity you can get), and a bit of public money can keep the newest creatives in town to jump-start innovation and economic growth. This is a brilliant idea.

Another brilliant idea from the students—bring in InnoCentive or some other networking, social media company, to link up smart student ideas with investors and business. I personally have seen dozens of concepts, many with sophisticated business strategies, generated by graduating seniors. Grads in “creative” fields doing great senior thesis work are a deep pool of potential economic growth.

Who wants to help me set up an ecosystem that taps their potential?

Reader Comments

Michael Wedman

May 18, 2009 4:08 AM

While I agree with the general premise of the posting, I don't believe that labeling corporations - and, therefore, their management - as "idiots" is going to have a positive impact on the dialogue. I'd suggest that perhaps we haven't done our own jobs well in keeping the value of internships in front of hiring organizations during these uncertain times.

Corporations have many challenges facing them. Let's participate with them in reaching creative solutions that benefit them, our schools and our students.


May 18, 2009 1:59 PM

Agreed. I'm an MBA currently undertaking a part-time MA in Design Studies and I'm amazed by the amount of creative, viable business ideas coming out of design/art schools that never make it into companies/products/services because there is no infrastructure to a) teach young designers how to go from an idea to a business and b) to fund these ideas.

I've been thinking about setting up a crowdsourced seed investment fund, a la KIVA where anyone who's interested can help fund designers to turn their ideas into businesses; at the same time providing mentoring and expertise to help guide the ideas through infancy. Maybe I should crank my thinking up a notch!

Thanks for the post, great though provoker.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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