Richard Wallis writes:
A new study of Media Production graduates’ long-term career trajectories exposes industry’s high levels of wastage.
Like consumable goods that come labelled with a ‘best before’ date, it seems that media careers may also come with a limited shelf-life. Research published this week suggests that media industries have a problem with long-term retention. The study is one of a series we have undertaken to investigate the career trajectories of our students. The more that we understand about their post-BU working lives, the better we can prepare them for the world of work, and the more effectively we can be the critical friend providing much-needed thought-leadership for industry.
The study took as its focus the BA Media Production (BAMP) ‘Class of ‘95’: the cohort of Media Production students who arrived at Bournemouth at the point at which the institution received its university status. These BU first-generation graduates are now in mid-career, and their working lives have spanned a period of unprecedented upheaval within the industries that they aspired to work in. The study has exposed a feature of media work that has wider implications for the way media industries operate.
We have long known that media work is not for the faint-of-heart, and that the transition from University into work can be extremely challenging. Many previous studies (including our own) have attempted to examine some of the difficulties graduates face, particularly during the early stages of their careers. In this study we set out to understand the way in which the demands of media work are experienced through the prism of age, and life stage. We were able to interview a sample of 28 of these graduates: just over one third of the ’95 cohort.
What we learned surprised us. We had thought that the major challenges of media work were those experienced in early career. What we found caused us to question this presumption. Although we confirmed much of what previous studies have highlighted about early careers, sustaining the relentless pressures of such work over the longer-term transpired to be just as significant a problem. Many of our contributors talked fondly, and sometimes passionately, about work they had found to be enormously rewarding, but this ‘labour of love’ had become increasingly difficult to sustain over time. The rate of attrition by mid-career is striking. This presents an important challenge to the media industries. Whilst they become increasingly reliant on well-educated, highly motivated neophytes who are inexpensive, willing, and able to be flexible and self-exploiting, they are heamorrhaging experience, honed skills, and organizational memory. This is a development that, ultimately, cannot be for the good of the individual worker, the media organisations in which they work, or the Creative Industries as a sector.
See: Wallis, R., van Raalte, C. and Allegrini, S. (2019) The ‘shelf-life’ of a media career: a study of the long-term career narratives of media graduates. Creative Industries Journal https://doi.org/10.1080/17510694.2019.1664099
Joshua (Josh) Cook graduated in 2016 with a first in BSc Games Programming. He is currently working on an innovation project being led by Professor Wen Tang. ” PLUS” is a gamified training application funded by HEIF, in collaboration with the Dorset, Devon and Cornwall (Strategic Alliance) Police forces in order to provide a virtual learning environment that teaches trainees in a more engaging manner than traditional paper based learning.
As a project team member Wen commented “Josh has been a pro-active and key member of the project team working with both academics , the College of Policing and police forces around the UK to develop this training application.”
Key areas of focus for Josh have included:
- Making the system more generic, so that the project can later be expanded to multiple areas and more situations with ease
- Improve the visual environment (of the game) with shaders and animations
- Include data analytics in order to obtain an understanding as to how trainees are using the game, how long they take, how many mistakes they make etc
Josh didn’t take a placement year during University, so aside from a summer position in a local games position he did not have much work experience. On being given this opportuntity to work on the projetc Josh commented ” The PLUS project seemed like an interesting project to work on, and when I found out a position was open to work on it I applied. I’ve learned some useful things on this project, such as working from and improving upon an existing code base, what it’s like working directly with clients, implementing and using data analytics, and I’m sure I’ll learn more throughout the duration of my employment.”
This project has received funding from August 2015 with the funding ending in July 2017. (HEIF 5+1 and HEIF 5+1+1)
Read more about this project in full: Serious Games for Police Training.
College of Policing Research Map
Students and staff from the Department of Events & Leisure in the Faculty of Management recently attended an exclusive charity reception hosted by the Fastforward15 mentor programme at Basement at The London Edition, where more than £3,500 was raised, with proceeds going to Newlife Foundation, The Prince’s Trust and The Clink.
The Fast Forward 15 mentoring programme is a not for profit initiative spanning the events, hospitality and related industry providers, giving access to and insight from some of the leaders in these fields; an inspiring portfolio of influential and select talent who are willing to share their knowledge and experience with budding stars of the future. Fastforward15 founder and MD of Zibrant Fay Sharpe was on hand to support the charity event and took the time to meet with the students and encourage applications from our students.
Final year events management students Kateryna Spivek, Kathleen McLoughlin, Daisy Collins and Freya Hill attended along with Department of Events & Leisure staff Dr Debbie Sadd & Dr Mary Beth Gouthro. The students were impressed to not only meet course alumni as FastForward15 mentees, Hannah Coleman and Lauren Glynn, but got to network with other course graduates who are currently established in the industry, eg Chris Middleton of Cievents, Katie Frettingham of Live Union and Laura Dennett of Zibrant.
Freya Hill, final year student said ‘a Night of Sparkle was a fantastic chance to meet people in all areas of the events industry – be it agency or in house. Each person I spoke to had a different perspective on the importance of events education – a topic also relevant to my dissertation. It was particularly inspiring to speak to BU grads and current Fast Forward 15 mentees and to hear of the many opportunities they have been given thanks to their degree as well as the fast forward 15 programme and their mentors’.
Student Kathleen McLoughlin also added ‘…from what we saw and from who I had a chance to speak to, the scheme has opened many doors for the mentees and they have accomplished so much in their year with their mentors. It was an honour to speak to Fay Sharpe herself, a very influential woman who has inspired me to apply for the scheme to aim for success!’
Fundraising activities on the night included a jewellery sale courtesy of Newlife, while raffle prizes were donated by firms including All About Flights, Green Route Africa, One & Only Cape Town, MICEBOOK and The Savoy. Following the success of its inaugural year, Fast Forward 15 is returning for 2016, offering 15 new mentees the opportunity to be of the programme. Applications recently closed and the events management course in the Faculty of Management has some hopeful applications in the mix. The Fastforward15 graduation and instalment of new mentees takes place at the Langham Hotel in London at the end of April.