Government support or Income Support?

I was interested to note comments in Design Week recently of the Government pledging support for the design industry and painting a generally bright and rosy picture for the future. My point is that, while the Government may well pay lip service to the future of the design industry, it is either being undermined by the DSS or feeding everyone a large dose of bull!

If you wish to learn the basics to get into the industry, and cannot afford to go to university, the other option is to enrol at a college. There are many courses on offer, normally under the banner of visual communications/creative technology/art and design and so on. However, the problem is that design-based courses are not included if you are receiving Income Support or Unemployment Benefit.

The reason is that the design industry is not considered to be an “essential needs occupation”. Essentially, it appears that the DSS/Unemployment Benefit Office operates a policy whereby the only vacancies available are those which are desperate for new employees. The only option open then, is to try and get some sponsorship and take these courses on a part-time basis. However, part-time, accord ing to the UBO, means that you may not undertake any non-UBO course for more than 16 hours per week, and even then the student should be “available for work”.

Not only does this reality not fit in with Government statements regarding the industry, but it also seems to me that the attitude and the red tape involved is so restrictive that many potential designers, who just happen to be unemployed, are deterred from even getting started, which does not bode well for the future.

I would be interested in hearing how the Government, or indeed the Opposition, justifies the lack of opportunity available for would-be design industry recruits.

Michael George

Maidstone

Kent ME15 7RH

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