THERE’S no such thing as an unemployed actor. In the politely euphemistic world of theatre, one is merely “resting”. But it turns out there’s no rest for 99% of graduates from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), who go directly from graduation into work or further training.

I suspect some will have been surprised to read last week that the performing arts academy is the best in the country for graduate employability, and the fourth best in the whole of the UK. Not because they don’t rate the institution – which is widely regarded as one of the best in the world – but because many fail to grasp that studying the arts is a viable route to a career. Instead it is too often seen as an indulgence, a skive, a distraction from the kind of “serious” subjects that lead to “proper” jobs.

Amid the ceaseless promotion of science, technology, engineering and maths to school pupils, who is flying the flag for art, music and drama? And when these subjects are mentioned, how often is the focus on opening doors to employment in the creative industries, as opposed to the development of transferable skills?

Of course, those who study at the RCS are, as a certain arts-loving teacher would put it, the crème de la crème. It’s therefore no surprise that these talented performers, directors, designers and technicians get snapped up by employers. But if my own school experience is anything to go by, the creative sector is not just open to an elite few, but to anyone with the drive to turn their passion into a career.

There were 22 students in my Higher Drama class at a state school in Edinburgh. Of those, half a dozen became teachers and one was promoted to head of that same school’s drama department in her mid-thirties.

One went from stage-managing productions in our huge, purpose-built school theatre to working with the likes of Sam Mendes, Richard Eyre and John Tiffany in the West End. One progressed to the RCS (or the RSAMD as it was then know) and Yale School of Drama, and now works as a props master on TV shows such as The Americans and Orange is the New Black. Another who cut her teeth on school plays entered the film industry and became a highly skilled clapper loader. One became a film festival producer and now has a senior role at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and another runs an events company staging pop-up cinema and immersive theatre productions.

These probably aren’t the kind of roles that are regularly suggested in sessions with the school careers advisor. And even if a young person understands what’s involved in being, say, a deputy stage manager, it’s not very likely they’ll have the opportunities we did to start their training at school.

That big old 1970s theatre has long since been demolished to make way for a soulless PFI new-build with a tiny studio space. Our old drama department is still going strong, but plenty of Scottish schools don’t have one at all. For many pupils, studying drama means trying to stay awake while disengaged classmates take it in turns to recite lines in monotone at their desks.

It’s notable that many of my former classmates headed to London to make their way in theatre, film and TV. How many more graduates might be retained, and how many more school pupils inspired, with greater investment in these industries here in Scotland?

It’s great news that the nation’s first purpose-built film and TV studio is coming to Midlothian, but who will fill the 1,600 jobs expected to be created if arts subjects continue to be regarded as second best?

Of course there will always be those who pin their hopes on a career as a pop star or Premier League footballer, and will need to be steered towards a Plan B, but that doesn’t mean every pupil with a passion for the arts or sport is misguided or naïve.

The UK’s creative industries are outpacing other sectors in terms of employment, with 300,000 new jobs created between 2011 and 2015, and an independent review last year finding a million new jobs could be created by 2030. So why, in a recent YouGov poll, was drama recently rated the least important school subject after Latin and Classics? Why do my drama teacher friends report spending parents’ evenings trying to justify their existence, and counter the perception that their subject is a waste of timetable space, and having to hammer home the point that the skills they nurture are the ones employers across a wide range of sectors are looking for?

One factor must be ignorance among parents, both of the UK employment landscape and of what studying the arts actual entails.They see arts subjects as fun, not work, especially if they have no personal experience of studying them. But could envy also play a role?

Many of my former classmates are living the dream and loving their work. Let’s not clip the wings of others who aspire to do the same.