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Talking about Employability and Enterprise at CSM with...Caroline Broadhead: Course Leader, BA Jewellery

Caroline has over forty years’ experience as a practitioner of jewellery and textiles and was awarded the Jerwood Prize for Applied Art: Textiles in 1997. At CSM, she teaches BA Jewellery Design, drawing from her own practice and experience to train students for their future careers. On her ‘talking tour’ Caroline offered us an insight into the way enterprise and employability is approached across her discipline:

What is your approach to enterprise and employability; how does your course demonstrate enterprise and employability in the students’ work?

For a student to be employable they’ve got to understand how a piece of jewellery is created, so it’s taught through a design process; from primary research, selecting, editing and developing ideas, testing out by wearing it and through to the refinement of an idea.

This particular group of students has done either seven or eight different live projects. Some were with a company and some were using materials that a client has selected. As well as these, they’ve done the medal project with the British Art Medal Society, and two Swarovski projects: one in the first year and one in the third year.

Time management, presentation and communication

We give them several opportunities to respond to a brief and present the work for review at different stages, so we can ensure they are heading in the right direction. The reviews are important as they allow us to see what each of them are doing, and the students can communicate what they want to show; communication is really important here. Time keeping skills are key also, because if they can’t get the work in on time then they can’t get the feedback.

What would you say the key attributes are for your graduates in their future careers?

Confidence and a flexible, positive attitude. A capability of knowing that they can do and being able to present their work well, and knowing that they’re not going to find anything too challenging; they’re used to dealing with difficult situations.

What career paths do your graduates usually take?

Most of them stay within the jewellery pathway; some will be designers, some makers, some will be production assistants or buyers for department stores, but there’s a whole variety of roles. Some have gone into film – prop making; some write.  They acquire a variety of skills they take away so there’s a breadth of positions they can fill.

How is the industry changing and how are those changes reflected in how and what you teach?

The biggest change is digital technology, we are adapting our teaching so the students know the options - how to work with the changes. Just this year we have got our own machines: a wax printer and a laser cutter, so we can start teaching it early in the course, as a lot of employers ask for knowledge of IT in graduates.

Essential skills and business acumen

They also want hand-painting skills and traditional, basic design skills. We do have seven or eight people coming in every year to show students how to set up a business; how to set up a studio, meet with galleries and how to approach designers to help them prepare for those elements upon graduation.

Transcript by student journalist Rebekah Thompson

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