Representing Design

In a rapidly changing and increasingly demanding marketplace, design is a critical source of competitive advantage. Embedded within, and throughout a business, design can impact across the total enterprise transforming its fortunes and tangibly realising its strategic intent. 

From measuring success to sharing excellence and best practice, we work to build universal confidence in design investment, and to enable thriving partnerships between those commissioning and managing design and the agencies delivering it.

Through our work, and with the powerful collective voice of our membership, the DBA is uniquely placed to drive design ever further up the agenda in business and government. 

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Advocacy

We work hard to represent the design industry to government, business and beyond.

By advocating on behalf of the industry, there is more power behind the voice, more influence and more results. The design industry is one that will continue to rise and grow, regardless of global trends like automation. It is an industry that is increasingly more influential due to it’s ability to solve problems for commercial businesses, societies and policymakers on a local and global scale. 

The design industry will be vital in helping society work through future problems on the horizon and it is our job, here at the DBA, to protect and grow the industry: encouraging access to talent, broadening the market opportunities and strengthening the world-class position of the UK industry.

Advocacy Focus

Our focus for 2019 covers the following threads as announced in DBA CEO Deborah Dawton’s speech at 2018’s AGM:

People and threats to talent supply

The lifeblood of our industry is truly talented creative people and high performing teams. Homegrown talent, as the Government refer to it, is crucial to our success – nothing new there. But we also have a need for international talent – those who understand the culture and nuance of designing for a Japanese business for example.

Education policy & recruitment

Government policy regarding Ebacc, Progress 8 and education funding is having a profound impact on numbers of students studying art and design, and design and technology which is compromising many schools’ ability to keep offering these subjects.

It’s important to remember, education is about equal opportunities. It’s not about academic vs creative subjects, A-levels vs T-levels. We have to end this either/or attitude in education and understand that equality of opportunity, encouragement, the nurturing of gifts and talents for all should be what school is about.

If you’re not creative enough, then you should be encouraged down an academic route. We need people who are gifted academically to be the best they can because we have to work with them in future life. 

If you are creative enough, we need to nurture that creativity but we also need to make sure students have a good academic grounding to their learning – because talking through the solution to a mathematical equation is where we learn to develop the skills to articulate our ideas, reading poetry or a book is where we learn to empathise.

We’re working to influence the future of our education system, undertaking extensive research amongst the DBA membership to establish what they need in their future talent, where the gaps in education and training are and how to combat broader issues stemming from education funding and policy.

We’re collaborating with the Design and Technology Association (DATA), the All Parliamentary Design and Innovation Group (APDIG), the Design Council and the Creative Industries Federation to name a few to ensure the design industry’s needs are recognised in the ongoing debate surrounding education, as well as working with the Department for International Trade on an international strategy, to secure the UK’s reputation for world-class creativity and design globally.

Growth and evolution

We want to focus our time on how you can attract and retain the right people to your businesses, and increasingly it’s not about throwing money at people. You should have a staff retention strategy – you should know exactly who you want to keep and who’s just passing through – and passing through is OK. Purposeful recruitment is critical – it’s costing too much in wasted time, so how do we develop the skills of those with this responsibility to deliver against our business strategies that clearly lay out the requirements we have for people? 

People bring about change and our businesses are ever evolving. Growth can look like so many things today: a more strategic approach to business, maturity of thought, scale, reach, stability and beauty of what we produce. We want to help you with that change. Great teams need to be fed a diet of great work and your skill to attract the best work is paramount. So we’ll be taking a fresh look at procurement for those that cannot circumvent it.

We’ll be looking at a suite of issues around growth (or evolution) such as business development (here and internationally), positioning, procurement and senior management team development even if that team is only one person. Well run businesses can cope with a leave of absence at Founder level if the Senior Management Team are well-developed. Let’s build businesses that are built to last beyond their founders.

World class

The positioning of you all as world class is critical to winning the hearts and minds of international brands, of SMEs and of start-ups, of governments, of NGOs and of the third sector. But we can only do that if you truly are world class. We’ll champion the UK’s design industry here in the UK and internationally. We’ll do that through a new focus on international activity and through the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards. Our positioning as a country of commercially and creatively effective teams and businesses is unique, we’ll evidence that.

We’ll also need to engage you in these activities because you’re on the frontline more often than we are. We want to furnish you with the arguments to make the case for the UK as THE creative centre of the world.

Representing you

The DBA is the collective voice for design. We listen to your needs and represent them to the highest levels of business and government. If there is an issue that you would like us to advocate for on your behalf, contact us via enquiries@dba.org.uk.

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