What do design graduates want from the industry?

Research by the D&AD New Blood Academy identifies what creative graduates want from the industry they are preparing to enter.


At Design Week we’ve written a lot recently on both the challenges facing graduates when they embark on a design career and about what both the industry and education need to do to help prepare designers for their career.

A survey released this week by the New Designers graduate show reveals that just 55 per cent of those graduating from design courses expect to be paid to design within a year.

Rrecent projects such as Collabology, run by Professor Fred Deakin at University of Arts London, and The Cass Hothouse, seek to “build bridges” between design education and industry by linking students and graduates more closely to design practitioners.

Simon Manchipp, co-founder of SomeOne, who took part in the Cass Hothouse project, says: “The ivory towers of traditional ad agencies and design companies are well known for their reliance on new creative talent with more radical mindsets, but what do they do to nurture it?”

The Cass Hothouse team
The Cass Hothouse team

But one voice has been so far missing from much of this debate – that of the creative graduates.

As part of its New Blood Academy programme, D&AD has interviewed 50 graduate creatives from 13 countries around the world and asked them about what sort of work they want to do and the type of industry they want to work in. Six key themes emerged from the research:


The graduates say: “We want to be part of an industry that is understood and valued.”

“How can we make sure the power of creativity is understood and valued across the economy? How can we make sure culture, both local and global, is respected and represented in our work? How can we make sure we’re driven by need and purpose, rather than platforms and technology?”


The graduates say: “We want to be part of an industry that finds solutions that last.”

“What will happen to ideas, products and designs at the end of their lives? How can we make sure our work has longevity, and isn’t destined for landfill?”


The graduates say: “We want to be part of an industry that understands the world’s problems are our problems.”

“What role can creativity play in changing the world for the better? How can we balance profit and purpose, aspiration and realism? How can we consider and integrate sustainability into everything? How can we collaborate with our clients to enable work with purpose beyond profit?”


The graduates say: “We want to be part of an industry where collaboration is key.”

“How do we encourage collaboration alongside competition? How do we ensure group success comes before individual ego? How can we encourage, support and enable collaboration?” 


The graduates say: “We want to be part of an industry that is brave throughout its work, and never lazy.”

“How can we push ourselves and our clients out of our respective comfort zones? How do we, and when should we, stand up for our ideas? How can we manage the balance between ‘being inspired by’ and ‘ripping off’? What can we learn from failure? In a fast-moving, multi-disciplinary industry, how can we find our role and define it?”


The graduates say: “We want to be part of an industry that welcomes and invests in talent.” 

“How can we invest in people to ensure we develop the skills needed to deliver individual and business growth? How can we encourage recruiting from a wider pool of talent to make sure that we tap into the diversity of thought and background that the industry needs to thrive? Are self-expression and personal values, both inside and outside of the workplace, embraced? How do we ensure everyone is valued, recognised and paid fairly, regardless of seniority?”


The D&AD New Blood Festival runs from 30 June-2 July in Old Spitalfields Market, London E1. For more information visit www.dandad.org.

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