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Design education: Roundtable conversation

DBA members gathered in London on 17 July to discuss the future of talent and the blockades that could stand in the way to achieving a rich and diverse talent pool for the future.

The roundtable was initiated to support research by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Design and Innovation, working alongside Design Business Association and Design and Technology Association, to investigate the decline in creative subject uptake amongst students and the effect that has on the future talent available. The research is being written into a report launching in Birmingham on 1 October to coincide with the Conservative Party Conference.

The conversation with members around the table covered multiple topics within the design education field, with a main focus on university. It was noted that there is a distinct disconnect between what is taught at university and college compared to what is needed by the industry. University degrees can lack the practical elements required for the commercial environment, from software skills through to commercial understanding and how to deliver to a brief within real world boundaries. The idea of client briefs, business goals and time constraint pressures seem to be missed within degree courses. An ability to articulate how a design conclusion was reached and a confidence to be questioned on the work is also an area that needs development.

The creative talent issue starts further back than university, with dramatic reductions in creative subject uptake having an effect on a host of different industries and disciplines. By removing the compulsory nature of Design & Technology from the early secondary school years, the future uptake of the subject reduces due to lack of awareness. However, the effects don’t stop there – manual dexterity, a skill required in many different industries from design through to medical, and emotional intelligence can be negatively influenced by reducing the exposure to creativity and the soft skills it breeds.

If those are the problems, what are the solutions? There were many ideas and options for the industry to influence the relevant stakeholders and make change. But, it is a deep subject that greatly affects the workspace of tomorrow, so more careful thought and research is needed before an action plan is formed.


Keep your eye out for more on this topic as we, your trade association, continue to work on ensuring the future of your workforce.

Do you agree on the above points? Want to add your own experiences? If you’d like to feed your own views in, please contact Gillian Green, either via email or phone.


T: 0207 251 9229

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