THERE's an old saying that history belongs to the victors: meaning that in times of conflict, the version of events we hear usually comes from the winning side.
But in the digital era, as every moment spent online becomes an escalating battle for our attention, the saying starts to make more sense in reverse: meaning that in the future, the winning side is likely to be the one that can tell the best story.
The art of storytelling has been central to human life for tens of thousands of years. From the earliest cave paintings to the first newspaper, all the way through Instagram and Netflix, we’ve used stories to define ourselves, communicate with others, and understand our shared place in a changing world.
And as that changing world brings a 24/7 stream of information into our lives, the age-old art of communication – of using stories to share ideas, shape arguments and inspire action – is becoming key to almost every future career.
Associate Professor Sandy O'Sullivan, from USC’s School of Creative Industries, says that in a complex and cluttered marketplace, organisations are increasingly seeking skilled, strategic communicators who know how to make a message stand out.
“Over the past few decades, the global economy has shifted to become what we call knowledge driven – a model where growth is based on the quality of information and services, rather than the production of goods,” Dr O'Sullivan says.
“In the knowledge economy, almost every industry now requires skilled workers who know how to analyse information, craft messages and communicate effectively across technological and geographical borders.
“This is why we consistently see strong communication skills near the top of the list of what employers are looking for in graduates.”
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Studying communication, then, is no longer just for people who want to work in the media. Instead, learning the theories and tools behind good storytelling can unlock opportunities across a wide range of new and emerging fields.
It’s also not just about words – in the digital era, video, imagery and design are just as important.
In USC’s degrees, students learn the foundations of written, visual and audio communication, and how to use them to tailor information to different audiences, channels and contexts. This includes online platforms like social media, apps and podcasting, as well as more traditional channels such as print, television and radio.
Across all degrees, the focus is on building a broad and adaptable skillset that will allow students to move between industries and tackle the communication challenges of next few decades.
And believe it or not, it’s that ancient art of storytelling that will ultimately help students future-proof their careers.
“While technology is changing rapidly, the foundations of good communication remain constant, and knowing how to harness that is key to being ready for the jobs of the future,” Dr O'Sullivan says.
“A few decades ago, we wouldn’t have imagined that communications graduates would be designing conversations for chatbots or helping to write games that train doctors or teach the public about consumer rights.
“In the same way that good communication has always helped a brand or cause capture our attention, these skills are what will help the next generation of graduates stand out.”