An explosion of opportunity

Issue: Volume 93, Number 13

Posted: 28 July 2014
Reference #: 1H9csv

On 30 June, the sixth Vocational Pathway – Creative Industries – was launched. Through this new Pathway, creative-minded students can gain the same foundation NCEA qualifications as students already learning through the existing Vocational Pathways.

Susan Tucker and Caroline O’Donnell are both from Te Kokiri Development Council of Levin; they provided a demonstration of traditional weaving at the launch of the Creative Industries Vocational Pathway.

The launch occurred as part of the Te Ara Whakamana: pathways, transitions, and bridges to tertiary education forum. To mark the occasion, the day included a celebration of all things creative, and guests were treated to lots of demonstrations.

In addition to the Creative Industries Pathway, the five other Vocational Pathways are: Primary Industries; Construction and Infrastructure; Manufacturing and Technology; Social and Community Services; and Services Industries.

The Pathways provide connections between secondary and tertiary education to six broad sectors of the economy and show direction for students, families and whānau, and industry.

The Vocational Pathways have become central to the Youth Guarantee initiatives: fees-free programmes leading to NCEA qualifications must align with the Vocational Pathways, Trades Academy programmes deliver credits recommended in the Vocational Pathways, and regional Youth Guarantee networks are using the Vocational Pathways to design programmes and education partnerships in the regions, to deliver coherent programmes and qualifications. Using Vocational Pathways in the curriculum is an effective way for students to achieve NCEA Level 2 or equivalent.

Due to demand, the Creative Industries Pathway was created to provide more options for students who were interested in the creative fields to gain credits towards NCEA Level 2. At the same time, the Creative Industries Pathway has allowed students to gain an understanding of the opportunities across the creative sectors.

Creative inspiration

Helen Baxter is a life-long creator, and shared her enthusiasm for the new Pathway at the launch. She has been involved with the creative industries most of her life; at one point, she founded a record company, and was reportedly one of the first employees in New Zealand to join the ‘remote economy’ (working from home), way back in 2001. These days, she is at the helm of animation company Mohawk Media. She’s worked extensively with the team at The Big Idea, a creative network that played a big role in the development of the Creative Industries Pathway. She says that the creation of the new Pathway was a matter of urgency, given that the modern tech-savvy creative is no longer a cliché pastiche of paint-spattered overalls, pencil moustache and beret.

“Take Mohawk Media for example: we produce animations. Obviously, the output is creative, but to get to the result requires a lot of highly technical input. I don’t see the creative industries as separate to technology, science, and engineering, for example. I think they’re all very much integrated, especially these days. You look at any form of art, apart from, say, sculpting or visual media like painting, and nearly every artist has used some form of digital technology to produce their work, to manage their work, to communicate or promote.

“This idea is really gaining traction. I had a conversation with a few of the teachers after the launch, and they were saying that when they were putting together the Vocational Pathways, they were finding it very difficult to decide where to put web design. Is it coding or is it graphic design? My view is that coders are as creative as painters. You’re creating something that has to look good, has to look innovative. The medium might be zeros and ones fundamentally, but the end user doesn’t care. They want to look at a well-designed website.”

Helen is most excited by the possibilities within the new Pathway as a vehicle to further re-shape public perception of the creative sector, of what creatives do, and of what creativity means in the modern world. We’ve certainly moved on from the days when parents might have been horrified had their child announced their intention to drop calculus in favour of modernist sculpture, but there’s work to be done. There’s a lingering perception that indulging the creative impulse is a dalliance only, and that at some stage the artist needs to ‘grow up and get a real job.’ The new Pathway can help students explore their options, and therefore, gain the confidence and knowledge to pursue their dreams.

“We need to remember that the creative industries are now worth as much to the New Zealand economy as forestry! That creates a huge opportunity for me. One of the great things about the creative industries is that they’re weightless. By increasing creative exports, we are reducing our impact on the environment and on the other industries. It’s completely complementary. If we tried to double tourism, for example, that would have a huge impact on our ecology.

“New Zealand is perceived as being an incredibly creative country; we seem to have the reputation overseas for being innovative, and being able to do a lot with a little. We hear it all the time. It’s almost a bit of a cliché, the whole ‘number eight wire’ attitude. That carries over so well to the creative industries.”

Developing the Pathway

Elizabeth Vaneveld is executive director at The Big Idea, ubiquitous networking hub for New Zealand’s creative sector. She’s another ‘lifer’ in the creative industries, having got to The Big Idea via many different incarnations, including event management and a long stint at Creative New Zealand.

Elizabeth was approached by the Ministry of Education to be part of a consultation group to develop the Creative Industries Pathway. She was the ideal candidate to begin gathering a team of those at the pinnacle of the creative professions, who could contribute to the development of the Pathway from a vantage of experience and success.

“The job in the first instance was to look at all of those standards that are within NCEA, and work out which ones should belong to the Creative Industries Pathway, then rationalise our decisions. That was a very interesting discussion, because, for example, architecture at that point was within the Construction and Infrastructure Pathway. So we had to really put our minds to the problem of whether it in fact belonged in the Creative Industries pathway. There were many instances like that.

“We also had to understand how the Careers New Zealand website works, and it was very sobering I have to say, for somebody who’s worked in the field for a long time, to see how prospects within the creative industries and the arts were rated and documented. You will see that many times, for particular roles within the sector, the career outlook is rated as ‘poor’.

“So that then led me to understand that there isn’t a good enough understanding between my sector and others, as to the way work gets found and offered within the creative industries.

“Because the creative economy is largely built on freelancers and contractors, you therefore have to have a mix of entrepreneurial enthusiasm, artistic talent, discipline to work within the parameters of a project, and mental toughness to live in a ‘lumpy’ income generation environment. All of these skills are transferable, and we need to let the other industries know about that.”

It’s a ‘win-win’ situation as far as Elizabeth is concerned: she says that the Creative Industries Pathway project was a fantastic opportunity to wade through some of the misconceptions, and start celebrating the things that creative people are good at, and are driven by. The project was also invaluable to Elizabeth in that it helped her gain an in-depth understanding of where the next generation of creative dynamos are coming from.

“It’s really interesting to consider that the young people who are choosing the creative industries as a professional pathway are incredibly familiar with technology. Then when you start to think about what their expectations might be in the future in terms of a viable career, in order to realise the kind of life and opportunities that they see for themselves, at some point there’s going to have to be a significant change to the way we, as a general public, see the creative industries.

“We live in a very interesting time for the creative sector. I think it’s so encouraging... to bring on this sixth pathway.”

Dame Suzie Moncrieff, founder of the World of Wearable Arts awards, was a guest at the launch.

Dame Suzie Moncrieff is the creative force of nature behind the World of Wearable Arts show. From humble beginnings in late 80’s Nelson, she has successfully ignored the legions of nay-sayers in creating an internationally renowned event that 50,000 punters queue up for every year. Education Gazette was lucky enough to get Dame Suzie’s thoughts on the Creative Industries Pathway, and the changing face of career viability in the creative sector.

Education Gazette: What do you think is most striking for you in terms of how the creative industries have changed since you first set up WOW?

Dame Suzie Moncrieff: “The biggest changes have come in the form of technology. The world has become smaller and more connected via the internet, which allows us all to see, share and enjoy creative works from all over the world at the click of a button. This increased accessibility provides inspiration and ‘how to’ knowledge to anyone with internet access. It also enables artists to promote their work to a wider audience and make a name for themselves. We just need to be careful that digital screens don't supplant the real life, up close and personal experience of three dimensional art and design.”

Education Gazette: What is different now do you think, in terms of what young creatives need to succeed?

Dame Suzie Moncrieff: Young creatives still need the same passion, courage, energy and persistence to succeed. They now have a much greater range of tools to help them create. They can learn so much from other artists online, they can use the latest digital painting or sculpting software, or the rapidly developing capabilities of 3D printers. But the ideas, imagination and courage to take risks still need to come from within.”

Education Gazette: Your thoughts on the new Creative Industries Vocational Pathway, and the place that creativity has in schools and learning in today’s world?

Dame Suzie Moncrieff: “Creative people, by their nature, come in all different types and forms. So it is critical to offer them options and tools to find out what works best for each of them. Just keep them busy trying new things, until they discover what works for them. Get involved, take risks, make mistakes and have fun doing it.

“Creative people change the world. It's the people who think on the ends of the bell curve, who have the biggest impact. Whether it be in the arts, science or the business world, creative people are our ‘game-changers’. Let's embrace them!”

BY Jaylan Boyle
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 6:04 pm, 28 July 2014

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