Preparing Generation Curious

The NW Cultural Education Summit
Become a Curious Minds Trustee
September 15, 2023
A group of young people engaged in conversations around a table.
Young Associates Recruitment 2024
November 8, 2023
The NW Cultural Education Summit
Become a Curious Minds Trustee
September 15, 2023
A group of young people engaged in conversations around a table.
Young Associates Recruitment 2024
November 8, 2023

Thoughts on 'essential skillsets' and the role of cultural education

Earlier this summer, our Head of Careers and Employability, Holly Ball, was invited to join a Westminster Education Forum panel discussion, considering Next steps for cultural education in England.

In particular, she was invited to contribute to discussions of post-16 pathways and careers in the cultural sector.

Naturally, this was a proud moment for us, as well as being a great choice. A qualified careers advisor, Holly has over fifteen years experience of delivering careers and employability programmes in the creative and cultural sector. She has plenty of insight to share on this topic.
If you weren't able to join the event, Holly has helpfully summarised her key contributions to the debate below.

It is becoming harder to predict what technical skills will be need by the time the next generation enters the workforce.

As the world continues to change at a rapid pace around us, young people will need a full and comprehensive toolkit to be their own opportunity makers in the future.

There are three vital contributions that cultural education makes to their toolkit and how it supports career progression and employment opportunities for all.
Essential Skills Development
When we think about the skills gap, we hear about technical skills that are missing and jobs that can’t be filled with skilled workers. Whilst this absolutely has its place in the conversation, my provocation is that there is a big part of the skills gap that does not have the same value and importance associated with it.

We need to reframe the conversation to include the essential skills gap. By essential skills we mean creativity, the ability to work with others, critical thinking, adaptability, amongst others. These are the skills that employers say they look for when recruiting and really struggle to find.
We know that these skills are all developed by taking part in cultural education, by being creative, an audience member, a participant. For example, visual art develops critical thinking by analysing why the artist had made a particular choice and the impact of this. We need to help young people recognise when they are learning these essential skills and how to articulate them to future employers.
Cultural Capital
Cultural capital is an essential part of a young person’s toolkit for life.

The 'embodied' part of cultural capital, feeling like you belong and you're comfortable with culture, can raise aspirations for children and young people. Seeing somebody who looks or sounds like you doing a creative job contributes to a sense of entitlement - this career can be for me if I choose. For some, school is their best chance, or indeed only chance, to access high-quality art and culture and develop that sense of belonging.
Cultural capital is a tool for social mobility, helping young people to break into other jobs in the UK’s economy that might not have always been an option for them. Their experiences of cultural education, and the essential skills they develop through it, become knowledge to use in job interviews or to create networks and opportunities for themselves.

Cultural education goes beyond creating pathways into the creative sector and needs to be recognised for the value it holds in accessing and creating wider employment opportunities.
Lifelong Learning
Working life will increasingly rely on the human capacity for creativity and the ability to keep learning. Given the rapidly changing world, we need young people who love to learn and can adapt and respond to the world around them.

This starts at the earliest stage of education, by nurturing a curious nature from the outset.

Cultural education inspires children to explore new things and learn more about the world around them. Then we must sustain and continue to develop this skill throughout their education and through into working life.
We need to find ways to communicate effectively with young people, parents, and supporters, that life-long learning will be needed. We need to challenge the traditional language of talent pipelines and pathways that imply a linear trajectory from education into a chosen career.

No two journeys into a creative career look the same. Lifelong learning will be needed to adapt and respond creatively to the world of work as it emerges around the next generation.

In conclusion...

Young people need a full and comprehensive toolkit to be the opportunity makers of the future.

They need essential skills that enable them to work effectively with others and with both current and new technology. They need to have cultural experiences that improve their understanding of what opportunities are out there and believe they are for them.

It is this combination of tools, knowledge and skills that will help them to make great things happen for themselves and for their communities.

Curious to know more?

If you'd like to understand how Curious Minds is working with schools, colleges and cultural organisations across the north of England, to support meaningful creative career dialogues and approaches for young people, please get in touch with Holly at

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