Creative approach required for jobs of the future

Australia's largest trading partner, China, has a strategic focus to shift from 'Made in China' towards 'Designed in China'. Australia's 4th largest trading partner, South Korea, has established 17 major innovation centres in 17 major cities across the country to quickly develop its creative economy and creative industries.

"China, Korea and Indonesia demonstrate an industry action plan for the creative industries is an essential step towards creating jobs for the future."
Peter Booth, Provost and Senior Vice President, University of Technology, Sydney

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Photo Credit: Jesse Taylor

In Indonesia - where the creative economy contributes 7 per cent to GDP - the government supports the growth of local creative industries as a pathway to growth.

Meanwhile in Australia, the news that 40 per cent of Australian jobs have a moderate to high likelihood of disappearing in the next 10-15 years due to technological advancement should have captured the attention of policy makers, employers, educators and workers.

Taken from Australia's Future Workforce by the Committee for Economic Development in Australia (CEDA), it paints a grim picture of our future if we don't create a culture of innovation - and the jobs which support that culture.

As our Asian neighbours increasingly recognise, the jobs of the future will be different. They will combine technology, creativity and innovation, the hallmarks of the creative industries, yet Australia doesn't have a policy approach to developing that sector. A sector which, incidentally, employs approximately 611,307 people, 6.2 per cent of the population, and contributes $90.19 billion to Australia's revenue. The number is growing strongly, with workers, most of who are in the SME sector, spread across the whole economy.

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It is clear governments can play an important role in providing SMEs with resources and support to scale up in this sector, evidenced by the tangible results produced by the Creative Industries Innovation Centre (CIIC), a collaboration between the University of Technology Sydney, the Commonwealth Government Department of Industry and key players in the creative industries from 2009-2015.

What is happening in China, Korea and Indonesia demonstrates an industry action plan for the creative industries is an essential step towards creating jobs for the future.

Indeed, we have much to learn from our largest two-way trading partners. Anthony Merrilees, who worked as an industry partner in the CIIC, has studied a number of international policy responses to the development of creative industries in Asia, the US and the UK.

Merrilees notes Australia's Asian neighbours have been embracing the economic development opportunities of the creative industries, adopting coordinated policy approaches that foster those industries within their economies.

It's not just Asia. Australia's third largest trading partner, the United States, earns more export revenue from its copyright industries, such as film, software, music and television, than it does from the export of its manufactured or pharmaceutical products.

Our seventh largest trading partner, the United Kingdom, recognises the creative industries as a growth sector and as such, last year launched 'Create UK', which provides a strategic vision and pathway for creative industries through to 2020.

Back in Australia, the CIIC provided direct support to more than 1500 creative businesses during its six years of operation. The businesses benefited from strategy advice delivered by the CIIC and tools to lift their business management expertise leading to growth and job creation. This work provided a significant foundation for a collaborative approach to innovation and policy development.

I'm pleased to say they can continue to benefit from a new book, Creative Business in Australia that shares the insights from the work done by the CIIC.

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The book looks at the pressing issues small to medium-sized creative industries companies face. Written for the owners/ managers of design, software, digital, advertising and marketing, screen, sound, music, publishing, performance, events, architecture and visual arts businesses - as well as peak business and government thinkers and decision-makers - it offers a way forward for individual companies and for government policy and industry leadership to back growth.

Business skills are important to creative industries and creative industries are increasingly important to an economy that must innovate to grow. Creative businesses are often innovation incubators and their work, once tested, is scaled up to serve the needs of big businesses.

There is clearly work to be done to support and advocate for creative industries in Australia and the best model for success is when industry, government and higher education to work together to create a world class strategy.

We need to adopt contemporary and broadly consensual definitions of the creative industries and the creative economy. Plus, creative industry businesses need to understand the trends and 'disruptors' influencing their business environment. The CIIC showed one way in which this model could be successfully applied.

We also need to provide graduates for future jobs and here at University of Technology Sydney our aim is to transform digital and creative industries education in Australia through offering multi-disciplinary degrees that equip students with the skills and the critical thinking capabilities.

To help Australia's prosperity, we need to do more than fulfill the jobs of the future – we need to create them.

Creative Business in Australia, Learnings from the Creative Industries Innovation Centre 2009-2015, will be launched at UTS on the 14th October.

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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