A survey undertaken by graduate trade show, New Designers, has revealed an interesting insight into recent graduates thoughts on their employment prospects and the benefits of a design-related degree.
90% of the design graduates who responded to the survey are confident of finding employment in the creative sector within a year of graduating. Almost half of them, 46%, expect that this will be take the form of paid work, with another 44.5% prepared to undertake unpaid work experience before finding the right role. Over two thirds, 69%, have already undertaken some industry experience before completing their course. 13% have already been offered a position prior to graduation. 97% believe that studying a creative subject has equipped them with transferable skills which will allow them to find employment in a closely related sector.
Isobel Dennis, Director of New Designers comments: “I find these results very encouraging. They are grounded, intelligent and realistic. Studying a creative degree encourages you to explore and discover what your potential is. Qualifying from a creative degree equips you with great skills for the working world. The nature of their structure promotes individuals to problem solve, work in shared environments, regularly critique their ideas and organise together in groups, all of which inspires creative and productive work.”
A third of those polled, 32%, believe that ‘creativity’ is the quality that prospective employers in the creative sector will value most in new graduate employees, above attributes such as ‘entrepreneurialism’, 2%. Qualities such as ‘experience’, 19%, ‘innovation’, 15%, ‘professionalism’, 11%, communication skills’, 11% and ‘technical skills’, 9%, were also seen to be important. A third of graduates believe that innovation, 33.5%, or problem solving, 30.5%, are the most important roles of design, with the rest split between making aesthetically pleasing things, 14%, and making a difference to society, 17%.
The graduates seem to be well informed, according to industry employers who regularly recruit at New Designers. Katie Greenyer, Creative Director at Pentland fashion brand Red or Dead said: “I always look for: creativity, innovation, communication first. The rest can be taught.” Laura Towers, Creative Assistant Manager at Tigerprint agrees: “We seek out creativity and innovation in a graduate designer. You will develop skills to become professional and learn how to communicate on the job, but creativity is what makes you stand out as an individual. Creativity can come across in your work, your personality and the way you present yourself.”
An entrepreneurial mindset is evidenced by the fact that almost half of this year’s New Designers, 42%, see themselves setting up their own creative businesses in five years time. The figures also represent the choice that many makers and innovators face when entering the job market – whether to set out as self-employed or to apply their skills to a role in the industry. A quarter of graduates, 25%, hope to be employed by a major brand or agency within five years, whilst almost another quarter, 21%, see themselves working for a small studio. Only 12% see themselves freelancing.
Salary expectations are realistic – over half of this year’s design graduates, 57%, believe that they will still be earning under the national average wage of £26,500 after five years of graduating. An optimistic 9% see themselves earning over £40,000 within this time.
1. Do you think you’ll find employment in the creative sector within a year of graduating?
a. Yes, paid 118 (46%)
b. Yes, but in a form of unpaid work experience 114 (44.5%)
c. No 24 (9.5%)
2. Have you already been offered a job in the creative sector for after you graduate?
a. Yes, paid 14 (5.5%)
b. Yes, as an intern 17 (6.5%)
c. No, not yet 225 (88%)
3. How much creative industry experience do you have to-date:
a. None 80 (31%)
b. Up to 3 months 106 (41%)
c. Up to 6 months 23 (9%)
d. Up to a year 17 (6.5%)
e. More than a year 30 (12.5%)
4. Which one quality would you say employers in the creative sector value the most:
a. Technical skills 22 (9%)
b. Entrepreneurialism 6 (2%)
c. Creativity 83 (32.5%)
d. Innovation 38 (15%)
e. Communication skills 29 (11%)
f. Professionalism 29 (11%)
g. Experience 49 (19%)
5. What would you say is the most important role of design? (choose one)
a. To make aesthetically pleasing things 36 (14%)
b. To make a difference to society 44 (17%)
c. Problem solving 78 (30.5%)
d. Innovation 86 (33.5%)
e. To inform business 5 (2%)
f. To drive the economy 7 (3%)
6. Do you think studying a creative subject has equipped you with transferable skills to work in a closely related sector?
a. Yes 249 (97%)
b. No 7 (3%)
7. What do you aspire to be doing in five years’ time?
a. Working for a small studio 54 (21%)
b. Employed by a major brand or agency 64 (25%)
c. Running your own creative business 107 (42%)
d. Working as a freelancer 31 (12%)
8. How much do you expect to be earning per annum five years after graduation?
a. £20,000 71 (28%)
b. £25,000 74 (29%)
c. £30,000 69 (27%)
d. £35,000 19 (7%)
e. £40,000+ 23 (9%)
New Designers, which has helped to launch the careers of well-known designers such as Thomas Heatherwick, Bethan Gray and Matthew Williamson, sees 3,000 of the best emerging designers exhibit at the Business Design Centre in London between 25-28 June and 2-5 July 2014.