Wales and the north east and north west of England were some of the UK’s fastest growing economic regions for the design industry over the last decade, according to a new report.
The findings have been published by the Design Economy, the Design Council’s research programme which explores the value of design across the UK. The data shows development between 2017 and 2019.
In 2019, the north west contributed £8 billion to the GVA (the value of goods and services within the economy) while Yorkshire and the Humber clocked in at £5.2 billion. The north east contributed £1.87 billion and Wales £2 billion.
The rates of GVA growth in the design sector were also consistently higher than the regional average in the given time period. In the north west, the rate of growth for the design economy’s GVA was 14%, in comparison to 6% for the regional economy. In Wales, the design economy’s growth rate of 18% towered over the regional figure of 7%.
Andy Haldane, chair of the government’s levelling up commission, says: “These findings show that nurturing the design economy should be at the heart of driving jobs, skills and regional prosperity in the north.”
“Rich tapestry of design excellence”
In 2020, 390,000 designers were employed in these areas, including designers in industry and also those who work in sectors such as finance and retail. Around 44,000 work in the north east; 173,000 in the north west; 117,000 in Yorkshire and the Humber; 56,000 in Wales.
The Design Council pinpointed seven “design clusters” which may be essential to economic growth in post Brexit Britain. These are Tameside, Calderdale and York, Humber, Wrexham, Sunderland, North Tyneside and County Durham.
According to the Design Council, northern regions have a “rich tapestry of design excellence” – industrial design an clothing are particularly strong sectors. This covers varied roles, including experience designers, product designers, development engineers, tailors and dressmakers.
That links into another Design Council finding that product and industrial design is one of the most profitable sectors in the industry. The sector contributes around £73,000 per worker in GVA per year.
Design Council chief executive Minnie Moll calls the findings “heartening”. “Our Design Economy research is important evidence of the value of design and what potential there is to leverage the sector for growth,” she adds.
Not all northern regions have flourished, however. Despite being on the most significant contributors the GVA, Yorkshire and the Humber saw a decline of 8% in its design economy between 2017 and 2019.
The full report, which aims to show the social, economic and environmental value of design and how to foster better conditions for the growth, will be published in full 21 July.
Banner image is courtesy of Shutterstock