If you want to become a doctor, you study Medicine. If you want to become an engineer, you study Engineering. Easy. What happens if you do not know or even do not want to study such a “fixed” subject? Well, you could choose to study History (or Philosophy, or Politics, or English Literature…). The decision to choose a creative subject is not always easy but it is essential that we start utilising these skills within the global economy to ensure for greater prosperity and innovation – regardless of industry.
Since coming to Germany my degree in History has been questioned a lot …
- “Are you going to be a teacher?” [No]
- “Are you going to work in a museum?”[No]
- “What dates did you actually learn?”[Well, none…there is a thing called Google]
- “Is it even relevant anymore?” [Let us look at any political event right now]
Sometimes the same questions were asked in the UK but in Germany they have increased in frequency. Here the accepted path is studying or doing an apprenticeship in a branch that you will then be in for the rest of your life. This does not enable the necessary flexibility which is required to encourage creative subjects into the economy beyond the traditionally assigned roles.
The argument here isn’t that you should not study Engineering to become an engineer but rather the attitude of ‘well-we-produce-machines-so-we-need-someone-who-likes-machines-regardless-of-the-job’ from employers needs to change. Why?12% of all graduates studied a creative subject (Geisteswissenschaften), this is an enormous untapped resource. Furthermore, when our horizons are expanded beyond this limited focus, new potential and new ideas can be found which otherwise may have been lost.
But what are some the advantages of a creative subject?
- Transferable skills – such as the ability to analyse and then prioritise information which is vital to decision making; an essential for any job
- Greater independence – there are fewer dedicated classroom hours which mean graduates learn the value of working in an organised and independent manner
- Wider cultural awareness – many of these subjects take on a global approach improving general knowledge and the ability to understand other people
- Generally, very rounded – this is often used negatively but by not being specialised in one specific area, they are suited to a variety of roles from administration right through to management
This is a timeless debate and will not be solved by one article. However, by highlighting the advantages of what in Germany are called “Geisteswissenschaften”, the psychological barrier between employers and candidates with a slightly unusual CV may be broken down just slightly. Who knows, it may be surprising what new opportunities crop up.