Designers need more commitment and professionalism

After months of advertising, we received just a tiny handful of applicants for two posts of experienced designer. Of these, two were on extended overseas excursions from their homes in South Africa and the States, and all but one were well below the level of experience or creative ability required.

We did of course receive many, unsolicited responses from agencies that we simply cannot afford to use. Is it not a bit simplistic, arrogant (and not a little short sighted), of what appears to be a generation of young designers to put their career paths into the hands of third parties whose main business aim is to inflate the cost of hiring them by up to a third of their annual salary? How many small consultancies can afford to pay £40 000 for a £30 000 per year post? Is this an indication of a significant shift in the way our profession is drifting?

We hear through the grapevine that more and more young designers (aged 25-30), the lifeblood of our industry, are getting a couple of years experience under their belts (at the expense of small consultancies such as mine), and then going freelance – encouraged by inflated hourly rates offered by freelance agencies – picking and choosing when and where they work, to suit their short-term, leisure oriented lifestyles.

Surely this is neither good for the profession, our clients or the young designers themselves – in the long term.

Our consultancy’s aim is to develop and nurture a creative team that can provide clients with brilliant, deeply thoughtout creative solutions. This is not a superficial aim, it requires the complete involvement of a team that has grown to understand the client and their aspirations. To succeed we need to be able to call upon creative young minds to breath energy, enthusiasm and – yes, hear comes the ‘C’ word – commitment into our business.

Where is our communications strategy failing as a profession? I think it must be a combination of factors.

First, there are too many third rate courses running, unregulated, throughout our further and higher education system. It is a system that rates bums on seats as a much higher success criteria than the employability of their graduates. This is having a negative effect across the nation, drawing funds and resources away from our educational centres of excellence, which in my humble opinion are an unmatched global resource.

Second, small design consultancies are not being used effectively by enough further and higher education centres to introduce students into the real world of design, as practiced by myriad small creative agencies, where work covers a broad range of disciplines from information, advertising, literature, and exhibition design to digital media direction and production.

Small (and large) design/ marketing consultancies are a valuable national training resource, and the Government and it’s agencies should be rechannelling significant funds away from underperforming further and higher educational establishments, into work-based training opportunities within the industry.

Third, as ever, our ‘professional bodies’ continue to disappear up themselves by failing to reach out and promote the profession as one which requires an extraordinary level of professional conduct and commitment from its practitioners. Let’s see our representatives get behind more innovative, (less glamorous) but infinitely more practical approaches to training that better reflect the profession’s needs.

It’s hard work being a good designer, but it’s rewarding like few other professions, and this is a message that must not be missed by future generations of designers.

David Rose

Managing director

David Rose Design & Media

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