The City of London is most famously home to the UK’s financial services industry. However, in addition to the financial services, central London has every reason to be proud of its place at the forefront of the creative industry world. The fact that English is now the universal language of business and creative culture assists in reinforcing this global competitive advantage.
Here in my own constituency, in Soho and the West End, lies the heart of the British media, TV and film industry. With our long success in design (Olympics logos notwithstanding!), our expertise in information technology and originality in computer games, there is little doubt that the creative industries rank as the next most important overseas economic driving force after our financial services industry.
In the worlds of broadcast and new media, the combination of British flair and innovation plays a leading role in creating new products and exporting expertise to the developing world. We need to ensure that this vibrancy in the creative industries is fully recognised at home and also promoted to an outside world ever more hungry for developments in this field.
To do this we need to ensure that we have a rigorous education system in the creative arts and its allied subjects. I must confess that one of the more depressing aspects of life during our summer is the predictable reaction to the announcement of A Level and university results. Commentators who really should know better bemoan the emergence of ‘media studies’ and ‘film and TV’ courses at the expense of traditional academic subjects.
For sure it is important that we encourage demanding courses at our universities, but this should never be the whole story. We also need to promote the very best vocational courses. The flurry of disapproval towards those doing media studies or other ‘soft’ courses is disheartening. After all, this is where many of the employment openings of the future lie.
The real issue is not the number of A Level or degree students doing media studies, but ensuring that the courses being offered are rigorous enough. Far more should be done to involve those companies and people working in the creative industries to ensure that the courses being studied are practical and effective. Encouragement should be given to our creative industries to work closely with our university campuses to make media studies and the fast growing roster of related courses a fast-track towards many skilled and creative industry openings. That said we should never forget the importance of energy, innovation and flair. Creativity cannot simply be taught in the classroom but we can ensure that the skills picked up during a degree or diploma course are made as practical as possible.
Our nation has been at the heart of global trade and the financial and commercial services fields for some centuries. With the rapid emergence of India and China as the economic superpowers of future decades, it is all the more important that we continue to promote spheres of excellence and comparative economic advantage. We need to maintain our place as one of the world’s innovators in terms of film animation, computer games and all other parts of the creative industries. That will only happen if we encourage our young people towards creative university degree courses as well as the more academic options. In that way we will continue to compete with the growing capabilities in the Indian sub-continent and the Far East. The benefits to our nation will be clear today and for future generations.