Junior design jobs dry up while digital roles soar in “extremely tough” 2020

In a challenging year for the design industry, junior opportunities shrunk while some senior designers suffered pay cuts.

In the past year, junior design roles have been cut by almost a third as fewer companies take on young creatives, a new report shows.

The research has been carried out by global recruitment agency Aquent, which based the figures on the thousands of creative roles it placed last year.

Roles for junior designers fell by 29% compared to 2019, which is reflective of the situation businesses now find themselves in, according to Aquent.

It is a stark contrast to last year’s figures, which showed a 7% pay increase for junior roles overall.

“Stretched resources”

New working conditions and furlough has “left resources stretched to capacity,” the agency says. “This has left little time to train and nurture those entering the industry, meaning the hiring of junior roles is no longer a viable option,” Aquent adds.

It adds that employers are “on the hunt for candidates that can ‘hit the ground running’ and need less support and training when starting a new role”.

However, while available roles fell overall, there were significant increases in pay for some junior sectors. These include junior digital designers (14%), presentation designers (19%) and packaging designers (19%).

On average, the highest paid junior roles are UX designers at around £45,000 and a full stack developers at £50,000.

Online content rises while copy writing falls

The rise of e-commerce and new buying habits have impacted the design sector. According to the survey, 81% of senior executives said that they are “banking on customer experience for growth”.

Senior video editors reported the highest pay increase (25%) while senior motion graphic designers also saw a 24% pay increase. Senior art directors (15%) and digital designers (13%) also enjoyed a pay increase, likely due to the renewed focus on online visual content.

Those working in copy and written content have fared badly. 2019 saw a continued stagnancy in pay for copywriting and last year senior copy editors reported a pay cut of 29% while the average pay for senior web editors also fell by 20%.

“An extremely tough year”

Aquent UK managing director Aliza Sweiry says: “This year has been extremely tough for the creative industries as Covid-19 continues to have a huge impact on business. What’s clear is that companies are now looking for candidates with seniority and knowledge of their respective fields to help navigate them through difficult waters in the wake of the pandemic.”

While it may be a difficult job marketplace at the moment, Sweiry adds that “employers are on the lookout for skills that can enhance their customer and end user experience”.

“What’s not so clear is the future of junior talent,” she says, while adding that sector-specific increases are a sign of the design industry’s strength.

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