Employability & Enterprise: A Way with Words – Creativity, Enterprise and the English Graduate – DVD

Employability & Enterprise

The Context

Government policy has identified that the development of a positive and interested attitude towards entrepreneurship and enterprise is a vital requirement for the future prosperity of the UK. The higher education sector has a key role to play in developing this approach with our undergraduates and postgraduates, as they consider and develop their future career paths. The Encouraging Student Enterprise project was set up with funding from the DfES to work through the English Subject Centre to inspire and encourage English Studies students to explore the possibilities of working as freelancers and setting up their own business within the cultural/heritage sectors. Our work was recognised as having an important role to play nationally, and on 13 September 2004 we attended the launch of the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship at The Treasury, London with the keynote speech by Gordon Brown.


Our research into the wide range of entrepreneurship and enterprise programmes that are available highlighted a mismatch between the conventions of the economic model of training and the needs of staff and students within English Studies. The aim of the Encouraging Student Enterprise project was to demonstrate alternative ways of approaching the concept of entrepreneurship through profiling the creative and innovative careers of graduates working within the cultural sectors.

A Way with Words….an alternative vision of ‘enterprise’

The project built up a bank of case studies of English graduate freelancers running their own businesses and we decided to highlight these in a DVD, the content of which is now available via the clips on the right-hand side of this page. (The DVD was originally mailed to all English departments, but stocks are now exhausted.) The clips intended for use by current students or graduates of English either independently or within a session run by their Department or Careers Service.

A Way with Words inspires graduates of English literature, language and creative writing to consider developing independent and innovative careers as freelances or running their own businesses in the creative or cultural sectors. It demonstrates alternative visions of ‘entrepreneurship’ for those from humanities backgrounds who may not relate easily to a business ethic.

Graduates of English have good communication skills, plenty of cultural knowledge and a capacity for independent thought, all qualities that are transferable and needed by successful entrepreneurs. The clips show how ‘enterprise’ isn’t just about cash flow, sales and the profit motive: it’s also about creating opportunities to do what you want to do in and around cultural activities.

A Way with Words profiles eight graduates of English including a film festival director, editors of a literary magazine, a screen writer, a children’s writer, an independent financial adviser and a theatre company manager. They talk about what they have done and why and how their degree studies influenced their career choices.

Watch the videos