Creative Industries Automation-Proof And Outsourcing-Resistant
Career Opportunities Creative careers can never be replaced by a computer.
When I was growing up, my parents had just one criterion in mind when they were advising me on my choice of career. They wanted me to get a job where I would make a ton of money. As a rebellious youth, I decided instead to become a writer.
Now that I have children of my own, I find myself tempted to give them similar advice, but the world has changed. Rather than focusing on careers that have fat paycheques today, I want to to encourage my children to choose careers that will continue to have paycheques at all in the future. That means jobs that can’t be easily done by a computer or a remote worker in Beijing. It doesn’t take much insight into the economy to recognize that among the safest careers in that regard are the creative ones.
Canada has entered the world stage as a creative powerhouse
Michael Hirsh, CEO of WOW! Unlimited Media, is one of the fathers of Canada’s creative industry. Since beginning his animation career in the 70s, he has brought us such cultural touchstones as Caillou and Franklin. He is amazed at how much the creative landscape in this country has changed over recent decades.“When I started my career there was no Canadian animation industry. There was no Canadian television industry really. There was CTV and there was CBC and that was it,” says Hirsh. “Now, the animation industry in Canada is second only to the USA. It’s a big industry, and it’s thriving. People come from all over the world to have their animation made in Canada.”
As this country continues the transition to a service-based economy, creative services are one of the few areas where work worldwide is flowing into, rather than out of, Canada. “From a globalization point of view, the Canadian animation industry is actually benefiting,” says Hirsh. “Americans, Europeans, and Asians all come to Canada because the animation here is just better and more affordable. We have this great talent pool and these great studios, so we get a lot of work flowing into Canada.”
Creativity is multidisciplinary
Another major sector of the creative industry, just as resilient to automation and outsourcing, is advertising. John Hotts is an Associate Creative Director at OneMethod, and he doesn’t believe that computers will ever be able to do what he does. “Show me a machine that can solve complex business and social problems with more insight than people can,” says Hotts, “and I’ll ask it to write my resignation letter right now.”
It’s that insight, especially into the psyche of local consumers, that also makes advertising largely resistant to being offshored. “The real juicy and meaningful connections that advertisers can make with their audience, that requires the power and nuance of a locally engaged person,” says Hotts. “In terms of making meaningful connections, if you were to outsource that you would lose the nuance that only people within their own market would understand."
Emerging industries need young blood
In addition to offering this resilience, the creative industries also provide powerful opportunities for young people to carve out their own niche and build their careers quickly. Lisa Hart, at just 28 years old, is already a Director of Strategy at Cossette, having led marketing initiatives for major brands like McDonald's. “In the creative world, if your work is good, age is just a number,” says Hart. “Yes, starting out can be tough, but after a few years in the industry, the pay is quite good. And you can advance quite quickly if you are good at what you do. The fact that I am a Director of Strategy and I’m not yet 30 years old would be unheard of in other industries.”
In terms of what I wish for my own children, I can’t see a single career path in Canada that is richer or more promising than the creative industry. I sincerely hope that my daughters follow the trails blazed by Michael, John, and Lisa. Yes, even if that means they become writers.