Human Sciences underscore intellectual life

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Palmerston North, February 21, 2017

Humanities teachers, researchers, students and graduates make a significant contribution to the development of cultural and intellectual life of New Zealand.

Humanities and associated disciplines account for almost half of all students enrolled in university, according to an Education Ministry Report released in 2016.

A Bachelor of Arts that is well taught and well delivered/learned provides graduates who have skills in information analysis, writing and thinking that are vital to business in the modern age.

Universities New Zealand – Te Pkai Tara data 2016 says that approximately 97% of arts graduates were employed three years after graduation, but 90% of graduates from our disciplines are in degree relevant roles such as teachers, managers, policy and planning roles.

Good earners

The average arts graduate is earning above the national median for salary and wage earners.

In a 2014 survey of Wellington employers by Massey University, 45% of employers surveyed said that a BA degree is relevant for the needs of business.

They said, It is important that potential employees have a broad knowledge base, and open and positive dispositions to learning and using knowledge in innovative ways and that knowledge is changing so quickly we need people who are critical thinkers and multi-taskers. These attributes I see more readily in an Arts graduate as opposed to a more specialist degree.

Employers disconnected

This viewpoint was endorsed by John Milford, Wellington Chamber of Commerce, at a Massey University event in 2016, where he said that too many employers are out of touch with the reality that humanities and social sciences graduates are ideally equipped with a potent mix of skills and aptitudes to help modern businesses and workplaces thrive.

Recent research from Oxford University estimates that 46% of current jobs are at-risk due to computerisation. However, for workers to win the race [against computerisation], however, they will have to acquire creative and social skills.

The relevance for a degree and research in the humanities, arts and social sciences has never been more apparent. There is a real need for humanities, a need for an understanding of social sciences in our world.

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