Dance is one of the oldest, most important, most human of art forms – and along with music, theatre, film, advertising, gaming and other creative work contributes to one of the strongest sectors in the economy. The creative industries bring almost £13 million to the UK economy every hour; more than £100 billion a year.
Dancers are employed in almost all those areas in different ways whether it’s working in motion capture for computer games, kicking out the chorus line in musical theatre, or as the model in, say, a piece of advertising.
How would it have felt, I wonder, if the ad had featured a trawlerman – and suggested he retrain in cyber? It would make practical sense, sure. Fishing – even post Brexit – will never be the most secure or money-raking career – as an industry sector, it brings in £1.4bn a year to the economy – and it is not so much of a job for the older worker either. Yet, fishing is totemic in Britain in a way that cyber-work will never be – and such an advertisement would feel remarkably tin-eared at the present time. Why shouldn’t fisher folk also stick with a career they love, one that is vocational?
None of this is to say that we don’t all need to be more flexible about our futures from here on in or that we don’t need some sound advice and support, from the Government at least for now. While telling us what job to do is about as nannying as I have ever heard and something that needs to be ditched pronto, there’s no harm in highlighting growing sectors such as cyber.
No age barrier
What the ad gets almost right is that those newer careers – in gaming design, social media, e-commerce – are ideal for job pivots. Because any of us can do IT. There isn’t an age barrier to learning or operating or mending when it comes to tech. And for anyone with older knees (be they ex-fisheries or Covent Garden), there’s an ideal amount of sitting down involved.
Indeed, now that some Millennials – brace yourselves – are close to middle-age, the idea of digital natives being the only hire in town is losing lustre. Some of us in Generation X were fiddling about with computers in sixth form, learning the crudest form of Basic. Boomers were the first generation to purchase Apples. Computer geekery and dexterity didn’t start in the Nineties. It was just a lot slower back then (all hail the arrival of the Pentium microprocessor in 1993.)
So the smart job ad would show silver surfers starting out in computing or ‘cyber’ (if that makes it sound sexier). It would show one of the army of middle-managers who need inspiration. The mid-life jobseekers who are desperate to feel re-inspired, have been made redundant or are in mid, mid-life crisis.
Perhaps it might also show burnt out IT workers looking to retrain in something that got them fitter. I can see the strapline now: “I bet you’d look good on the dance floor…”