Design schools are flooding the market with graduates? Pitiful job prospects? (DW 8 November) Or is something else happening which we should all be pleased about?
In higher education, even traditional courses like 3D and fashion design are brimming with eager applicants. Why is this the case? They clearly want to study design no matter what.
Taking the commerce and industry line is important. Job prospects are important, as are the needs of employers. However, perhaps we should extend our horizons further to cope with the popularity of design and this challenge. Most important is the need to define clearly what differentiates design graduates from, for example, creative graduates of the business schools and computing courses.
Design needs managers with a knowledge of design and corporate goals. It needs creative design directors, who, like film directors, use teams of specialists to design. How do you educate these specialists, except in specialists courses?
Jobs in teams are one thing. New businesses are another. From William Morris to Terence Conran and James Dyson, many individual designers have provided the seedcorn of new industry. Today, in multimedia, for example, we see talented individuals creating design from the visuals to software coding; manufacturing their products on CD-ROM or websites, and then distributing them world-wide to their customers on the Internet. Design through production to customer in one fell swoop by an individual.
Over-supply of graduates? Pitiful job prospects? The design schools are well equipped to create the entrepreneurs of the future. They have more than their fair share of creative people and excellent prototyping facilities. The country needs new entrepreneurs for the next century. What better incubators for these entrepreneurial talents than our design schools?
IDEAS Design Futures Group
School of Design and Manufacture
De Montfort University
Leicester LE1 9BH