STUDENT LIFE / APR. 10, 2014
version 2, draft 2

The Reality of Employment Prospects for Drama Graduates

It is no secret that drama graduates often struggle to find long-term employment. After graduating they are inclined to embrace a mixture of mediocre and un-paid work opportunities to sustain any chance of a future career. These graduates, like many others, are facing dwindling paid job opportunities and these opportunities are specifically linked to certain sectors of the creative / performance industry. With this in mind and the increasing need for employment amongst graduates - what is the reality of employment prospects for drama graduates?

An insightful, preliminary report conducted by Drama UK’s Graduate Destination Project sheds some much needed light on this question. The study which followed the alumni of multiple drama schools was able to detail numerous key findings in regards to the jobs these graduates secured, and the sectors that these jobs fell into as well.

These findings include the following:

  • 424 jobs in Fringe or Off-West-End theatre.
  • 164 jobs in Workshop or Rehearsed Reading.
  • 195 jobs in the television sector.
  • 40 jobs in small scale theatre.
  • 70 jobs in the Entertainment sector.

This information shows that there are varying levels of success in securing employment for drama graduates. There also appears to be some inconsistencies when it comes to commercial employment amongst this group of graduates. The study shows that the majority of paid job opportunities stem from work in the television sector. These are highly competitive and reasonably lucrative roles, yet if this sector offers the highest amount of paid jobs in comparison to the 424 Off-West-End theatre roles there is a divide between the two sectors. With one monopolizing higher paying salaries and the other creating its own alternative niche as a way of offering drama graduates the opportunities they need to progress or supplement their careers.

As pointed out in the study, this appears to have forced drama graduates to seek, or forge their own way into the performance industry in the form of touring companies and other independent projects as a means of gaining access to professional employment. Another interesting finding that this study pin points is the possibility for future employment opportunities via the internet and social media. This finding is credible in regards to the growing number of social media platforms like Vine which are spawning and reinforcing a new way for stand-up comedians such as Ryan Doon to kick-start their careers. As the study states, 70 jobs within the Entertainment sector are linked to comedy and cabaret, so this appears to be another avenue that drama graduates are opting to explore.

The rest of this study’s finding can be found here. Numerous conclusions can be deduced from this study, amongst them is the sense that drama graduates who are aspiring to work in the drama industry need to weigh out their options carefully in terms of what their viable employment prospects are after graduating. Additionally, drama graduates who opt to work professionally should decide sooner rather than later, which sector of the industry they want to work in and target that sector upon graduating whilst taking up jobs in similar sectors if possible.

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