STEM studies have been touted as the ‘next big thing’ for the past few years, leading many students to question the value of studies in the humanities, arts and social sciences (HASS). However, without a HASS degree, students may find themselves without the skills needed to succeed in the modern workplace.
Strength in diversity
For many millennials, a life spent doing the same job seems an increasingly unlikely proposition.. In an ever-changing workforce, having the ability to reinvent your career by transferring your skills to meet the needs of different employers puts you ahead of the pack. A 2016 World Economic Forum report predicts that ‘soft skills’ will top the list of skills demanded by employers in 2020. Problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management and emotional intelligence are just some of the skills that will set employees of the future apart, making HASS degrees a vital part of Australia’s higher education landscape.
According to ACU’s Head of the National School of Arts, Professor Michael Ondaatje, a HASS-focused degree opens up so many different exciting career possibilities for students. The School’s diverse range of flexible degrees – including arts, global studies, international development studies and creative arts – are designed to set students up for success across their working lives. “I have former students who are working in government, in politics, in business, in the media, as lawyers, as teachers and much, much more. The possibilities are endless,” says Professor Ondaatje.
As the world changes, skills that you have through a HASS-focused degree become more and more applicable in different changing contexts.”
Soft skills, hard problems
As the world becomes more automated and jobs get outsourced or become obsolete, having ‘soft skills’ such as judgement and decision-making, critical thinking, empathy, the ability to connect people, and creativity will set you apart and make you a valuable member in any workplace. However, Professor Ondaatje says these skills will not only help you to be a highly effective employee; they will also help you to make your mark on the world. “In arts, we inspire and equip our students to go out and ‘make a difference’, to enliven others, transform communities, and to be leaders in their chosen careers...”
The art of the start-up
Start-up culture is appealing to many young people; in fact, many ‘millennials' would consider working in the start-up world after they graduate. But will a HASS degree prepare you for this fast-paced, innovation-driven, global environment? Professor Ondaatje says absolutely.
One of the greatest things about the School’s degrees is that they open up all kinds of opportunities that aren’t available to other people. We develop research skills, analytical skills, communication skills, the ability to work independently and as part of a team, - and you get first-rate international study experiences. The World Economic Forum report proves that employers value these kinds of skills, particularly in the hyper-competitive world of today.”
Work with passion, and with meaning
Many modern employers cite passion and enthusiasm as essential attributes for future employees. Arts students are encouraged to build their whole degrees around what they are most passionate and enthusiastic about. According to Professor Ondaatje, studying subjects you are passionate about will help you to succeed at university, and open up employment opportunities in areas you are passionate about.
“It’s really important that whatever you do, that you are passionate about it, because if you’re passionate about it, it will sustain you at university, in work and in life,” Prof Ondaatje says.
A career compass, and a moral one
Successfully completing an arts degree not only provides you with many career options, it also prepares you for a successful life.
“When you graduate university, you graduate as an informed, ethical, democratic citizen, and if there has ever been a time that the world needs informed, ethical, democratic citizens, that time is now.”