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It emerged this week that design is not classified by Government as a standalone industry, so its commercial value cannot be determined for statistical analysis.

Why is this a problem and what needs to happen to rectify things?

The absence of a Standard Industrial Classification code for the design sector fuels the misguided opinion among many organisations and academics that design is a ‘nice to have’, rather than a proven, commercial tool. With the subsequent lack of statistical information hindering vital research reports, this opinion is not going to change. In a climate where raising the international profile and exporting UK design is vital to the industry’s survival, it’s about time the outdated SIC code system caught up.
Jenny Hillier, Managing director, Briggs Hillier Design

This is not surprising given that statistics systems are agreed internationally – it’s unreasonable to expect them to keep pace with dynamic sectors such as the creative industries. The Creative Economy Programme and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are looking into it. Luckily the UK itself is not short on design statistics given the work of the Design Council, the Design Business Association and British Design Innovation.
Christine Losecaat, Sector champion – Design & Creative Industries, UK Trade & Investment

It’s a mistake to think that only things that can be measured have a value. But it is a damaging historical anomaly that the SIC codes for business activity don’t cover design in an up-to-date or useful way. This makes it very hard to gather data about a really significant wealth generator in the UK economy; you have to cobble together six codes to even partially cover design. The Design Council is encouraging Government to sort this out – but change won’t happen overnight because the codes are subject to international agreement.
Harry Rich, Chief executive, Enterprise Insight

Data on the output of the creative industries as a whole is poor, and the Government has been looking into this area through its research work in the upcoming Green Paper. But the real issue for the design industry is this/ why can’t more management teams grow their businesses into bigger, more profitable companies? This has nothing to do with lack of policy-level data, but with the general lack of management skills in this industry.
Greg Orme, Chief executive, Centre for Creative Business

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