With the 2015 general election result hours away, every individual and business in the UK will be considering the impact.
The focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM subjects) is something that has been widely covered over the past few months and there has been an emphasis on this in many of the recent political debates.
Whilst it is reasonable to discuss the value of studying STEM subjects, it would be dangerous not to recognise the importance of other disciplines.
Policies encouraging more STEM teachers and the introduction of reduced fees for university students taking STEM subjects will have many positive impacts, but we cannot put all our resources into one basket.
We are never going to solve the problems in Syria and Iraq by making bigger guns. To solve those sorts of problems we need to study history, politics and psychology. We need to understand the conflicts and learn ways to avoid more.
Our economy needs arts graduates as much as it does STEM graduates. Consider the 'creative industries' - that rag-bag term which ranges (according to the SCMS 2001 Creative Industries Mapping Document) from functional content - arts, craft, fashion, design, to expressive content - film, video, television, radio, music and so on. The creative industries are now worth £76.9 billion per year to the UK economy and they account for around £1 in every £10 of the UK's exports. Creative industries generate £146,000 every minute for the UK economy; and employ 1.7 million people in the UK.
At Bath Spa University we train students for the creative industries. Our graduates are acclaimed authors, world renowned artists, musicians and business entrepreneurs. But they are also working at the forefront of digital publishing and app development. They are prepared for jobs which do not yet exist. Our Professor of Creative Computing Andrew Hugill talks of possible new jobs such as digital citizeneers, pervasive mediatricians and data ecologists.
As a 16 year-old choosing A-Levels, or an 18 year-old deciding which university to go to, students should not be forced into one area. While it is undoubtedly important to steer future students into careers that will positively impact our economy, we should allow them the freedom to decide the discipline themselves, rather than be tempted by the promises of one political party or another.
They should be encouraged to develop skills in a variety of areas so they become well-rounded citizens, who are ready for the changing world of work, supporting whichever government is elected.Suggest a correction