For some, 21st century technical advances are the great leap forwards, bringing the undoubted benefits of higher productivity, reliability, availability and increased productivity. For others, there is a concern: in the automated, robotic future what happens to the humans?
The answer, according to one international thinktank, is to refocus on the value and place of creativity in all we do. In its report ‘Creativity vs Robots’, Nesta, the global innovation foundation, state that the creative economy is the UK’s unspoken success story, ‘historically deeply rooted and making up one-tenth of the whole economy’. They explain that the creative industries ‘account for 2.6 million jobs – from advertising professionals to computer programmers, and from actors to video games developers – more than advanced manufacturing, financial services and construction’.
It’s a view supported by Dr Lisette Johnston, head of school at ScreenSpace in London. In an article in the Times Educational Supplement last June she stated that ‘in the 5 years to June 2016, jobs in the creative industries rose by 20% to 1.9 million, three times faster than the UK average’. She also predicted that ‘by 2025 the sector will contribute £130 billion to the UK economy and a million new jobs will have been created’.
Dr Johnston goes on to say: ‘There is no doubt about it: from film and television to advertising and marketing, the creative industries are one of the UK’s fastest-growing sectors in terms of both job and value creation’.
More recently, the Department for Culture, Media and Sports announced that ‘the UK’s roaring creative industries made a record contribution to the economy in 2017, smashing through the £100 billion mark.
According to the report which was published last November, the value of the creative industries to the UK is up from £94.8 billion in 2016 to £101.5 billion, and has grown at nearly twice the rate of the economy since 2010.
Crucially, when it comes to the rise of the robots and a world in which more and more once-steady jobs are replaced by machines, the creative sector – according to Nesta – has the key advantage: creative jobs are hard to automate.
That said, Nesta also identify a set of skills that will be in especially high demand and best future proof workers against the rise of the robots:
- Interpersonal (collaboration, communication, social perceptiveness)
- Cognitive (originality, fluency of ideas, active learning)
- System skills (judgement, decision making)
They’re skills that are not always the focus of schools but which clearly make a huge difference to the future potential of today’s young people. Filling the gap are a range of programmes that support schools by offering young people activities that do focus on the fuller development of such skills through the lens of the creative industries. RIO’s Future Make, is one such example. Designed for 7-11-year-olds as ‘the club for little hands with big futures’ it gives participants a taste of the future, inspiring them as designers, makers, creators and engineers.
And, crucially, it supports them in developing the all-important future skills that will allow them to successfully battle the bots!