What use is an arts degree?
Carved in stone?: being an arts graduate doesn't rule you out of a tech job, says Patrick Hennessy
THE READERS:What you said on irishtimes.com this week
Peter McGuire, writing in Tuesday’s Irish Times, looked at whether the stereotype of arts graduates as “esoteric philosophers, unemployed writers and ready-made civil servants” matched reality. McGuire, citing a survey of new hires in the past 12 months, noted that just 12 per cent of them had humanities degrees, which he contrasted with the high demand for graduates with science, engineering and technology skills. McGuire asked why, with such a specific skills shortage, arts subjects are still popular at third level. The article sparked a debate about the benefits of an arts education. Here’s a selection of the online comments.
Since when has the only benefit of a degree been the prospect of a job afterwards? twizzer88
I am 30 years in the HR profession, now retired from the UN and running my own HR consultancy. Companies ask me to design job profiles and map competencies or group skill sets for specific jobs. Practically every one of these managers emphasises: (a) high-level interpersonal skills and clear ability to work in a team; (b) emotional intelligence; (c) self-awareness; (d) analytical skills; (e) proactive and calculated risk taking personalities; (f) self-starter; (g) life-long learner; (h) good time managers; (i) good work-planning skills; and (j) good communication skills.
After those skills they would like technical skills. How many times have I heard them plead with me to design jobs that will exclude nerds, time wasters, submissive passive people who await instructions for everything, team wreckers, etc?
Technical education is icing on a cake. Any education that develops good analytical skills and forms a rounded, self-aware, emotionally intelligent, assertive, proactive personality which can work in teams has produced a successful employee.
However, the nature of work is fast evolving. Location- and time-measured work is gone. Product-measured work from any location is the new work. This calls for great maturity and self-discipline on the part of the employee, and great trust between boss and subaltern.
Young “millennials” need to remember this. They don’t do time well. PatrickHennessy
Solution: if you love something but it’s not going to provide a sustainable and reasonable wage, then do it in your spare time after work. Peter O’Neill
I went to university to get an education, not a job. I didn’t want to go through life with a muddled grasp of the essential issues.
And I did have a long, rewarding career.
As noted above, students with arts degrees often think more broadly than those whose focus is narrower.
In the past, medical schools preferred students who received degrees in chemistry and biology. Now it is not uncommon for students with diverse degrees (art history, sociology, literature) to become physicians – as long as they have the core sciences as well.