Design industry predicted to be worth £3.8bn by 2018

The design industry is expected to be worth £3.8 billion to the UK economy by 2018, according to a new report.


Source: Adrian Clark

Figures from Falmouth University and the Centre for Economics and Business Research show that design was worth £3.4 billion in 2012. This was up from £2.7 billion in 2008.

The gross value added figures relate to design, photography, and translation, a category, which has been created to reflect the way the Government sees different sectors, according to a spokeswoman for the researchers.  

The design figures are part of a bigger forecast, which predicts that the creative industries will be worth more than £100 billion to the UK economy by 2018 and will employ 1.39 million people (4 per cent of total UK employment). 

Meanwhile the number of people employed in the design, photography and translation industries is expected to reach 50,000 by 2018, marking an increase of 5,000 from 2012 levels.

The researchers say they have based their research on figures from the Office for National Statistics and defined different sectors using the Standard Industrial Classification framework. However, while advertising, architecture and public relations have their own SIC codes, design does not.

A spokesman for the researchers says: “The forecasts in the report are based on the performance of more aggregated industrial groups, so we haven’t forecast the design sector specifically. However, if we assume that design’s share of the ‘professional and administrative services’ sector remains constant, this results in [the] estimates.”

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  • Bocca Difal November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    There is no shortage of recent research demonstrating the huge contribution of the creative industries to the UK economy, and it is not immediately obvious why Falmouth University has thought it worthwhile to commission the Centre for Economics and Business Research to ‘compile’ already existing information in this particular form. It is certainly extremely odd to lump design together with translation. One wonders how much this exercise has cost the university.

    In June 2014 The Department of Trade & Investment (UKTI) published a comprehensive set of figures covering this area in its ‘UK Creative Industries – International Strategy’. The one area that this report failed to cover was Crafts, but this was rectified only last month, when the Crafts Council published its ‘Measuring the Crafts Economy’ report, revealing this area of the creative industries to be adding £3.4 billion annually to Britain’s economy. Strangely, this is not an area mentioned in the figures ‘compiled’ for Falmouth University.

    Or perhaps this is not so strange. It is worth pointing out that in the past few weeks the university’s decision to suspend its highly regarded and popular Creative Crafts BA has caused widespread dismay in creative circles, not just locally but nationally. Signatures on a 38 Degrees petition asking for the decision to be reconsidered have already reached nearly 7000.

    Many of those signing have pointed out what a vital course this is in maintaining the kind of hands-on making skills that continue to be at the heart of Britain’s success in art and design. This was a point reinforced by Jony Ive, Apple’s chief designer, in a lecture last month for the Design Museum, in which he lamented the fact that so many design students are coming out of university having never actually made a physical object. These skills are particularly important to Cornwall’s economy, and many signatories to the petition point out that they owe their livelihoods to them.

    The decision to close this successful course was announced in the same month as the ceramic poppies at the Tower of London caught the popular imagination and Grayson Perry – the country’s most high-profile artist, whose practice in rooted in craft skills – launched his superb ‘Who Are You’ series.

    It appears that the university’s main reason reason for closing the course is the high cost of running the workshops that it uses, especially when the space could be used to expand IT and business courses. Many in (and beyond) the university see this as a very deliberate turning away from a great tradition of artistic making that stretches back over 100 years and is still at the core of the Falmouth brand – indeed, the very reason why so many students opt to study there. Of course, this tradition is not opposed to digital innovation, and in fact the Creative Crafts BA makes extensive use of advanced digital techniques as do the university’s design courses. But within the university, the perception is that Falmouth’s Vice Chancellor sees anything that is not mainly screen-based and business-oriented as an expensive and old-fashioned waste of space.

    So why commission this ‘research’ and then announce it as if it’s something genuinely new? The spin delivered to the figures by Professor Carlisle gives the game away. The point is not to celebrate the creative industries as a whole, let alone Falmouth’s proud heritage of designing and making beautiful and inspiring physical objects, but rather to big up the sort of IT and business-based courses that the Vice Chancellor favours. The press release that the university put out to publicise this research barely mentions design, and the two cultural products that the Vice Chancellor mentions as exemplifying the best of the creative economy are Grand Theft Auto and Downton Abbey. This will only add to the mounting sense of dismay that the people in charge of the university have scant respect for the values that have made it an outstanding incubator of art and design talent.

    Incidentally, readers may find it interesting to see some of the other clients for whom the CEBR has provided most useful reports. They will find details of these on the website maintained by the public interest investigations group Powerbase, which monitors networks of power, lobbying and public relations. I wonder what Falmouth students will think of their £9000 fees being spent on such ‘research’?

    If you would like to support real creativity at Falmouth, please add your name to the many well-known artists, designers, makers and educators who have signed the 38 Degrees petition – simply google ’38 degrees Falmouth crafts’ to find it.

    Thank you.

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