Creative skills = global opportunity


17 Nov 2015

Creative Skills Media Release



Creative skills = global opportunity

17 Nov 2015

If you've got a son or daughter who's creative and likes playing with the latest technology, you're lucky, says Dr Suzette Major, campus manager of SAE Creative Media Institute, "because in the 21st century that's an area where they're going to get work. In fact, research shows that our creative industry is larger than our finance industry - it's huge."

At SAE's campus in Parnell, students learn to be NZQA-accredited audio engineers and film makers, and project managers are clamoring for students before they've even graduated.

"It's one of our biggest challenges," laughs Major. "We have students who absolutely have the skills, but we have to say, 'just let them get their qualification and then you can have them.'

With creative industries providing the jobs of the future, developing creativity and learning the key technical skills are equally important.

"It's now very possible to make an amazing song using electronic music production software, and to release that over YouTube and have it become huge."

SAE NZ's newest qualification is the Bachelor of Film Arts, which starts in January.

Major has just signed a lease on a new building, and construction of film facilities is under way.

Among the skills taught in the audio courses is the ability to "hear" and mix sounds correctly.

"We'll all been to gigs where the sound is terrible," says Major.

"You can't hear the singer or the drums are dominating, so sound mixing is critical. And those skills carry over into all sorts of fields, like releasing an album, or the film and TV industries."

While most courses have one annual intake, in January, there are more for the diploma in audio engineering, and the certificate in electronic music production which is taken as a night class.

Major says it suits students in their last year of school who are tossing up whether to do tertiary study.

"It's a good taster for kids who love music, and manipulating music and sound electronically. It also suits adult students who may have been playing around with GarageBand as a hobby and decide they want to make a career out of it."

People who work in the creative industries are mostly freelance contractors who will be contracted to a project like an album recording, a film or an event needing sound.

SAE teaches students how to set themselves up, apply entrepreneurial thinking, negotiate contracts and charge out for their time.

New graduates are likely to start out with small, local projects and SAE helps with introductions.

As they become known for their technical and professional skills, they get contracted to larger projects.

Courses starting in January are filling fast and Major recommends students get their applications in as soon possible, online at

"We literally have queues out the door, so the sooner they apply the better," she says.

"Because SAE is a global organisation, with 54 campuses across 28 countries, we have a very strong reputation.

"And we have to limit numbers because we want to offer a very hands-on, practical experience."

Major says SAE's global reputation is one reason their graduates have such good job prospects.

"You can walk into a studio in San Francisco and say, 'I'm an SAE graduate' and they will know what that means.

"And the creative industries themselves are very global now.

"For example in film, footage can be shot in two different countries and then be sent to a third country for the rough cut and on to another for the sound mix.

"That's partly why we have people queuing up to get in here.

"They recognise that if they want to create a viable career within the global industry, they need to learn how to operate in that global sphere right from the outset."

Major feels fortunate in leading a team of creative professionals who typically have one foot in industry and the other in SAE.

"It means our students are learning from people who are successful in their own right and know what it takes to make a creative career."

Dave Johnston completed a marketing degree before focusing on his real loves, music and audio, and taking SAE's audio diploma.

He now works several jobs, being the drummer of Villainy and working part-time with SAE, developing and maintaining industry relationships and organising promotions for students and graduates.

He's able to lecture and run tutorials on audio production and mixing because he's also a freelance producer and mixing engineer in his "spare" time.

Open day

SAE is holding an open day on Saturday, November 28, 11am-3pm,
12 Heather St, Parnell. Potential students can meet staff and talk to students and view their work. Radio station Flava will provide on-site entertainment, and after a presentation explaining the institute's operation and qualifications, students can check out the "classrooms" (studios) and play with some of the equipment.