Friday, 30 January 2015
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Students urged to avoid design

Industry heavyweight Ian Cochrane is recommending design students to ‘get out’ of the sector, which ‘does not need you’, as the recession bites.

Cochrane is managing director of management consultancy Ticegroup and former managing director of both Fitch and Landor Europe.

Cochrane tells Design Week, ‘There are still too many people coming out of design courses, and there simply aren’t the jobs for them.’

He recommends that students enter alternative occupations and gain experience outside the design sector.

‘Look for jobs in industries that have vacancies – I mean, if you want to design restaurants, it is good to have worked in one or two,’ he says.

Branding guru Michael Peters concurs, saying, ‘There is too big a supply of young designers and far too many people doing mediocre work.’

According to recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics, every sector of the economy recorded a fall in vacancies last quarter.

Chartered Institute of Personnel chief economist Dr John Philpott says, ‘This looks to be a jobs recession that is favouring the over-50s ahead of younger people. This may be because employers are implementing recruitment freezes more widely than in previous recessions, which disproportionately hits people entering the labour market.’

To read more of Cochrane and Peters’ views on employment issues in design, see the next issue of Design Week, published online tomorrow and on newsstands on Thursday.

Readers' comments (44)

  • Well, thank you for the encouragement.. I can't believe in this time of doom and gloom that a person of his stature has passed a comment like that.

    Yes there are few jobs, but design shouldn't be elitist and confined to stale talent. All young creatives bring new energy and enthusiasm which all good teams need.

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  • This article is insensitive and stupid, how are you gonna tell students who have got themselves into massive debt by going to design schools to suddenly switch to something else, maybe if the industry wasnt driven by greedy suits then everybody would get a chance to work. The industry "gurus" and "heavy weights" just want cheap labour that is ready to work as soon as they come out of univeristy, without actually contributing to the education or development of young artists. Why dont give go teach some courses if you are so concerned.

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  • I just came across this article and I do agree with Michael peters about design education and the numbers of students taking design. However i think that this so called recession will bring out the best in students wanting to enter the job market and give them a wakeup call to strive to get more and more experience plus it would make prospective students think twice about taking design courses and realize that it’s not an easy ride.

    This is a great time for specialism such as brand identity and other design sectors as a whole but it will be a challenge getting it right.

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  • An interesting article with good advice given the challenging times ahead. As previous comments highlight, it's clearly going to be a bitter pill to swallow. What astounds me is the belief of some students that the industry 'owes' them employment. Its time they learnt that these are businesses, and they simply cannot employ students when there isn't the client work out there to pay for them.

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  • As a designer with some experience I have to say I agree with Cochranes comments at some level, however, his point of view is perhaps a little insensitive.

    There are indeed more design graduates than there are design jobs (this isn't a phenomenon limited to design either) but we should be encouraging and nurturing talent so that the future of our creative industries is maintained and fed with new talent from the bottom as well as upheld from the top. I wouldn't dream of advising someone to stop studying design if this was something they felt drawn to.

    I think some balance is required. I would say it is important, especially at the present time, for any student of (as well practicing ones) to be mindful and realistic about their abilities. If you have a passion but perhaps lack some skill, then don't expect to land a top job. Use this insight to make informed choices about what you want to do and how you might do it. View gaps in your knowledge and abilites as opportunites. Working in a restaurant, office, store or anything else will undoubtably provide inspiration and experience that might just help you develop your own career path.

    Employers might be looking to bolster their positions right now with the best talent they can find; this is really important for business. But asa important are the people who are just starting their own journey; don't forget the talent you've yet to meet.


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  • I think it is time to face the truth and this article is full of it. It does not have anything to do with being elitist or else the fact is there are more people finishing University again this year than there are jobs. The biggest learning a designer should have made during education is that they are problem solvers, these are needed anywhere especially in times like these. I think it speaks of extrem narrow mindedness if people speak out like the two previous comments, if you are a good designer you will find a place to work and contribute your design thinking to whatever that might be. Just don't get stuck with the traditional jobs, think creative and really think what you would like to do and lets face it it will not be easy to find a job at the moment not for people who already have experience and not for people who are straight out of University, but in a recession there are always also opportunities for bright ideas, they just won't come on a golden platter!

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  • I have just graduated and i am looking for work, and i do agree that the supply of new designers is far higher than the current demand. However i do not believe that telling young designers to 'get out' is in any way going to help the industry as a whole. Its not just young designers that are producing mediocre work there are alot of established design professionals that are producing equally mediocre work as well.

    I would like to know why many design managers seem to belive that fresh graduates have nothing to give, and are incapable of generating high quality work, yes we might noit have as much experince of the world, but it doesn't mena that the training we have doen is any less valuable, or somehow has not taught us how to design, or be creative.

    It has been said many times that if your standing still in business your going backwards, so why would an industry that is supposed to be at the cutting edge be wanting to stay with the same ways of doing things and relying on the same people with the same ideas?

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  • It's a fair point. The colleges are churning out students with no talent, no skills and no passion for design. The sooner they knock it on the head the better for all of us. There is no way on earth more than 10% will ever find jobs. There just aren't the positions especially with India and China in the mix.

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  • This is fair enough and understandable due to the current climate. However, this is only one persons opinion, as a graduating student I know how difficult it is going to be to find a job but no body should try and dissuade any one from following a career aim that they are passionate about. In my opinion you get what you put in, and if you work hard to get your self out there to as many people as possible then opportunities will come. It is never good to have such a negative attitude, a balance realistic and positive hard working attitude is a better approach to the current situation. There is also the possibility of freelancing.

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  • hmm.. Maybe the pressure of the current economic climate is getting to Mr. Cochrane! I would have hoped a man with his wealth of experience would truly understand and appreciate the benefits and advantages that a young, enthusiastic designer can bring to a business. Fresh blood and fresh ideas can provide a lot of insightful prompts to the existing design team, and even management (No, you are far from perfect most of the time). Sorry Mr. Cochrane but coming from a design manger who must rouse and inspire creativity and innovation within a team, I find your words about as insightful and energising as warm pile of fly infested dog faeces. Good day to you sir!

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