You may have seen the press release put out on Tuesday by the Ministry of Education with regard to salaries for tertiary graduates. Similar to previous reports, graduates with a bachelor’s degree earn on average 40% more than the national median earnings after five years in the workforce with those with post-graduate qualifications earning even more.  These benefits continue to increase over time.

The report also goes on to state that the highest earning qualifications include health-related fields, engineering and information technology – reinforcing the message from government that more students should be encouraged to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. All very well and good, but what if STEM subjects are really not for you?  Not everyone wants to, or can be, an engineer or doctor.  What if your strengths, interests and passion really lie in the humanities and social sciences area?

The future of work is changing as quickly as I write this blog. If you are an arts student or graduate I strongly recommend reading the article published by Forbes magazine, That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket, written by George Anders. The article is a great illustration of how some of the fastest growing companies are eager to employ people with degrees in subjects like theatre, film, philosophy, history, and communications. Why?  Because true creativity can’t be programmed and they need people who can write clearly and follow an argument all the way down.  The more technology changes the world, the more companies need people who can connect with customers, figure out what they want and make progress enjoyable.  As each wave of technology comes along, there will be a fresh demand for trainers, coaches, workshop leaders and salespeople.

To be sure, financial benefits for STEM graduates remain strong and whilst they command a premium salary early in their career, reports continue to show that strong social, communication and creative skills turn out to be just as important in determining future earnings potential. So, all arts students out there….don’t hide behind your degree – keep an open mind, use your skills to learn about the trends impacting on future work, think about how you can contribute to the advancing technological world and know that you can make a difference.

I like Forbes’ quote of the day by Tisha Johnson: “There is nothing like knowing you have a real opportunity to affect the future in a positive way”.

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