Creative Pathways - Information on Creative Careers for young people in Aberdeenshire
Do you enjoy solving problems, turning ideas into reality and sharing your thoughts? Do you love writing, drawing, collecting, recording, making, performing or designing? Maybe you want to change how we live and enhance people’s lives?
Whether you enjoy working alone or in a team, the Creative Industries include a range of jobs where your skills and talent can lead to an exciting and fulfilling career. There are around 65 thousand creative jobs in Scotland, worth £3 billion to the Scottish economy each year*– and Aberdeenshire’s ‘Creatives’ are part of that success.
*Creative Scotland 2015
So what are the Creative Industries?
Your creative skills can be applied to a host of different types of jobs, which means it’s possible, and quite common, to work in different sectors of the Creative Industries during your working life. Download the pdf at the bottom of the page to see case studies of creative people and jobs linked to the Northeast.
Some skills are specific to a particular creative job, like playing the flute or writing code, but there are key skills that apply across the Creative Industries. These include
Imagination – thinking up new ideas and questions, inventing, exploring options
Curiosity – noticing things, looking for patterns, connections and differences
Open-mindedness – learning from mistakes, being flexible and excited to try new things
Solving problems – practicing hard, asking for help, being determined, trying a new approach
Transferability – using what you have learnt before but in a new situation, using what works for other people
There are different routes into the Creative Industries - you might stick to just one or combine a few, depending on where you’re starting from and where you want to go. The main routes are work experience, volunteering, employment and studying at college or university.
For advice on all creative careers
Skills Development Scotland (SDS) offers advice and guidance to help you get the career you want. To help plan your own pathway, see case studies, learn about study and employment options, salaries and more, visit www.myworldofwork.co.uk
You can even take a quiz to work out what creative jobs you’d be best suited for, get interview advice and tips on writing CVs.
SDS staff also work with Career Advisers in schools, offering guidance to pupils and parents making subject choices and planning ahead.
Creative Choices offers advice, job profiles, case studies and information on all the Creative Industries. It includes sections on events for young people, industry insights and ‘ask an expert’ for specific questions you might have. Go to http://ccskills.org.uk/careers
For advice on IT, Software Applications & Games careers
IT and Tech touches all areas of the Creative Industries, from setting up internal computer systems for ad agencies to designing virtual reality software for architects. It’s estimated there will be 11,000 Tech jobs a year in Scotland for the next 10 years*. For information on digital careers go to www.digitalworld.net
*Digital World Roadshow Aberdeen 2016
For advice on Museums and Libraries careers
There are more jobs than you might think within Museums and Libraries – curating, digital, conservation, collection care, documentation, education, audience development and marketing to name but a few.
Most people do voluntary work and a one-year postgraduate course in Museum or Heritage Studies before starting work in Museums. For careers info go to www.museumsassociation.org/careers
Many people study for an Honours Degree at University or do a one-year postgraduate course in Librarianship before embarking on a professional career in the Library Service. However, ICT and Marketing qualifications are transferable to the profession. For careers advice about working in Libraries go to http://www.cilip.org.uk/careers
All Aberdeenshire pupils are expected to do work experience (sometimes called work placement), usually in S4. You’ll be encouraged to organise this yourself, so it’s a good opportunity to research creative employers in your area.
Work experience is a great way to see what creatives actually do every day and can give you useful contacts for advice or employment. It also helps to develop your skills in time management, working with others, communicating, planning and organising - all essential skills for work.
Are there any local printing companies, architects or radio stations you could approach? Have you thought about asking your library or museum? Speak to pupils in the year above and find out where they did placements.
Your guidance teacher will advise you when your school work experience week is, and if you get stuck, Aberdeenshire Council has a database of employers called WorkIT which includes creative opportunities – ask your guidance teacher for help with this. You’ll need to start looking for placements 5 months ahead of time so the Council can ensure the appropriate procedures, including health and safety checks, have been completed. If it suits you and the employer, you could even do a flexible placement over a longer period e.g. one or two days per week over a school term.
Don’t forget, if you do well during your work experience you might be invited back during the school holidays. Any experience you can gain will help you understand what kind of job you’d like to do and shows you’re keen to learn.
For advice on work placements in Aberdeenshire go tohttps://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/schools/work-placement-unit/
Or ask your guidance teacher or school careers advisor for help.
Employers and colleges like to see examples of volunteering on your CV as it shows you’re motivated, able to work in a team and willing to put yourself out there. Volunteering can develop your confidence, show you have a positive attitude and that you understand the consequence of your actions - all important skills for life.
Aberdeenshire Council teams can offer creative volunteering opportunities:
Museums – working with special objects, information and displays. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Libraries – working with a huge range of materials and people. Go to email@example.com
Aberdeenshire Voluntary Action is a one stop shop for information on all kinds of volunteering. The organisation also delivers three awards for young people:
Young Aberdeenshire Volunteer Award (ages 5-15)
Saltire Award (ages 12-25)
Aberdeenshire Volunteer Awards (ages 18 plus)
You can visit one of the offices in Fraserburgh, Banchory or Inverurie or go to http://avashire.org.uk
Local employers and community groups might also be a good place to seek volunteering opportunities. How about offering to make a window display for a florist, create flyers for a festival or help out at a kids’ craft session in the church hall? Keep a sketchbook or journal of the work you do. Even if you’re not volunteering with a creative business, the work you do can be creative, and you can ask the organisation to write you a reference if you apply for college or work.
If you’re considering approaching a creative business for employment or to become an apprentice, you’ll need to have your CV ready. Your careers or guidance teacher should be able to help with this but be prepared, it might take longer than you think and you’ll need to be clear about what you want to put across.
Employers like to see a range of skills so as well as any creative study, volunteering or work you may have done, think about when you’ve used creative thinking to help solve a problem, or visualise a new way of doing something.
Skills Development Scotland offers handy online programmes to help with CV building, writing cover letters and job applications. Go to https://www.myworldofwork.co.uk/getting-job/cvs-and-applications
Creative Skillset is the industry skills organisation for the Creative Industries. It works across film, television, radio, fashion and textiles, animation, games, visual effects, publishing, advertising and marketing communications. As well as advice for professionals, there’s also information on apprenticeships. Go to
http://creativeskillset.org/who_we_help and click on Young Creative Talent.
Modern Apprenticeships are about learning while you work and earning at the same time. At the end of the apprenticeship you are likely to have a qualification to help gain entry to study or a job. Modern Apprenticeships are generally for ages 16-24 and span all sectors of employment, but opportunities in the Creative Industries can be limited. There are details and lists of vacancies at https://www.apprenticeships.scot/
A ‘speculative approach’ (approaching employers when they aren’t actually advertising jobs), can also be made. It will show you are a self-starter and have a level of confidence - many companies will hang onto CVs until they have a job to offer…and you might get a call.
Studying at college or university gives you the chance to explore a far wider range of creative subjects that you will do at school. Many courses include industry or study placements to help build contacts and knowledge you might not get otherwise. Some creative careers require a qualification in order to get a job, but in all cases further study helps to develop skills and experience to specialise in something you really enjoy, and that you can earn a living from.
It can difficult to decide what course to apply to, so gather as much background information as you can to make an informed decision.
For ALL undergraduate creative courses, look at the subject list athttp://ukpass.prospects.ac.uk/pgsearch/UKPASSCourse.
For IT and Tech courses go to
For Museums courses, click on Courses Guide atwww.museumsassociation.org/careers
For Librarianship courses go to
For Visual Arts courses, also look athttp://graysartschoolaberdeen.com/what-you-can-study/ to help decide what subject you might find interesting.
It’s important to ask your guidance and subject teachers, family and friends for their opinion too. You might be surprised or challenged by their response but an objective view can help you see the bigger picture.
In most cases entry to a creative course will depend on you achieving qualifications in specific subjects, but other things might be just as important. These could be a portfolio, an audition,or examples of creative activity outside class time. Many courses also look for evidence of voluntary activity or that you’ve studied a broad range of subjects, not just creative ones, as this will help you develop a rounded approach to future work and life.
It’s definitely worth visiting colleges and universities before you apply as this will give a sense of what they can offer, how the place feels and what the students are actually doing. Visits can be made during open days, during final year art student degree shows, student awards or showcase events, or by arranging a date to suit you. Check college websites for details and contacts.
Locally, North East Scotland College (NESC) runs taster days In Fraserburgh and Aberdeen where you can get a feel for college life and access programmes to help with getting to university http://www.nescol.ac.uk
Your school will advise on when you need to apply to college or university, and deadlines will be advertised on their websites. Universities require UCAS applications – ask for help with this during your PSE lessons. For information on courses and the cost of them go to
You won’t pay college tuition fees for undergraduate courses if you study in Scotland, but you will if you choose a course in the rest of the UK or abroad. It’s important to consider other costs before you make an application, like rent, heating, food and entertainment. Some students may qualify for bursaries or sponsorships to help with this – ask the college, search online or go to www.saas.gov.uk the Student Award Agency Scotland website
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit” - Aristotle
For the professional organisation for Library staff
Aberdeenshire Council Arts Development Team
Aberdeenshire Council Museums Team
Aberdeenshire Council Libraries Team
A successful creative career depends on talent, drive and determination, far more than where you grow up or your family background. In the North East we have a huge range of happy, skilled, professional creatives supporting themselves, their families and the Scottish economy every day.