The most recent report by the Foundation for Young Australians, The New Work Reality, identified fourwith the first being ‘not enough work experience.’ This is hardly surprising; most graduates looking for work struggle with the age-old conundrum of being told they don’t have enough experience while simultaneously being refused the opportunity to gain said experience.
However, a recent collaboration between the University of Western Australia and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra will give music students the chance to complete a masters while gaining “direct access to WASO musicians through weekly mentoring, individual lessons ad playing in concerts side by side with their instrumental mentors”.
This is a departure from the norm for arts students, as this type of work experience doesn’t tend to be as readily available as it is for those studying degrees in business, commerce and accounting. Internships and graduate programs are far more common in these fields of studies; you just have to look at the Top 100 Graduate Employers list to get a pretty clear picture of where the opportunities lie. Four of the top eight companies are in accounting and advisory, 17 are government and public services, 14 in banking and financial services and a dozen in IT and communications.
It raises the question of how arts graduates are meant to break the stereotype of studying degrees with few job prospects, when their avenues to gaining experience and padding their CVs are limited in comparison to students in different faculties.
It’s not a problem with a quick-fix; organisations such as the Big Four accounting firms and large banks naturally require a huge volume of graduates with educational backgrounds in finance, while work for arts alumni tends to be more niche and difficult to categorise.
However, if an effort isn’t made to create clearer pathways for arts students to undertake internships, earn experience and gain subsequent employment, the number of grads working jibs unrelated to what they studied at university is likely to rise.