Design in 2019 – what will design education look like?

As part of our series on the future of design in 2019, Sarah Weir, CEO at the Design Council, looks at what will happen in education over the next 12 months.

What do you think will happen to UK design education in 2019?

Although it seems unlikely that there will be any changes to the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) qualification, and the creative and design T-Level will not be available until 2022-23, 2019 should be the year that there is a greater focus on workplace training. In the short-term, the Government will be publishing its review into business productivity and it is clear, based on evidence, that design must be part of any solution to the productivity puzzle.

Our research, Designing a Future Economy, found that people who use design skills are 47% more productive than the average UK worker, delivering almost £10 extra per hour in gross value added (GVA). In the longer term, we have to make sure that people in employment are developing design skills so they are prepared for the challenges of the future economy.

What do you think is the most notable thing that happened in design education in 2018?

Image courtesy of Design Council

In 2018, our Designing a Future Economy research showed the pipeline of future designers had nosedived, with number of students design and technology at GCSE-level down 60% since 2000 and 50% of schools having closed their departments. However, at the same time, our 2018 Design Economy report showed the design economy is booming, having generated £85.2 billion GVA. This is 73% of the value of the financial services and insurance industry. It found that 68% of this value was created in non-design industries such as aerospace, automotive and banking, and also highlighted the disparities that exist in design. It is an industry that is still 78% male and almost one-in-three design businesses are based in London.

Design will provide the skills required in numerous sectors of the future, from artificial intelligence (AI) to driverless cars. These findings combine to show that unless we improve access to design, there is a growing risk of a split between people who are able to take advantage of these opportunities and those who are not.

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  • Carl St. James January 9, 2019 at 8:53 am

    This year will also be the first year of 1-9 grades from the reformed Design and Technology GCSE. Although a new course, it will be interesting to see how grades have changed from the old system, as there is now a 50/50 split between coursework and exam, rather than the 60/40 of old. Students have been encouraged to make a ‘Degree-Style’ Blue Foam Prototype as their final piece rather than one made of hardwood and plastics.

  • Paul Woodward January 13, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    The focus on the new GCSE is exploring a context to formulate a design brief and develop prototype outcomes. Materials used are irrelevant to the old syllabi; they need to be appropriate for the intended product and all this is a positive move away from ‘craft’ focussed products. However, it is confusing for many schools and, If social media is any indication of outcomes, this could be a bad year for results and, in its inaugural year, the redesigned subject could do with a shot of positivity and success.

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