Consultancies mustn’t sacrifice new blood…

Ticegroup managing director Ian Cochrane’s sweeping message to design students to flee the design industry was clearly a narrow view, based on the current over-supply in a downturn economy.

Ticegroup managing director Ian Cochrane’s sweeping message to design students to flee the design industry was clearly a narrow view, based on the current over-supply in a downturn economy (News in Depth, DW 29 January).

There is an over-supply of graduates, and the best and most dedicated do need to be identified from among the mediocre and vocational. But to suggest they all abandon a career in the design consultancy sector would leave the sector bereft of a very valuable skill set.

Individuals running the majority of today’s design consultancies are from the baby-boomer and Generation X decades. Current graduates represent the ‘Millennia generation’.

This generation has been brought up in a technology-led world, and has a great understanding and no fear of it. The established design industry needs to embrace and harness the Millennia generation and form mutually beneficial relationships with universities to bring students into the workplace as ‘project apprentices’, where both parties learn from each other, and client organisations and consumers benefit as a result.

The design industry is rightly protesting at the activities of some universities offering the work of design students to industry for free.

This is damaging to the design profession as ultimately unqualified design students can only offer their thought process and visual interpretation skills to industry. They cannot offer years of consumer-behavioural experience and the ability to translate business information and strategy into tangible products, services and marketing collateral that seduces consumers to purchase.

The latter they would learn from their elders as much as their elders would learn the more innovative uses of digital technologies from graduates, as well as gain valuable insight into the Millennia generation.

Maxine J Horn, Chief executive, British Design Innovation, by e-mail



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