Students urged to avoid design

Industry heavyweight Ian Cochrane is recommending design students to ‘get out’ of the sector, which ‘does not need you’, as the recession bites.

Cochrane is managing director of management consultancy Ticegroup and former managing director of both Fitch and Landor Europe.

Cochrane tells Design Week, ‘There are still too many people coming out of design courses, and there simply aren’t the jobs for them.’

He recommends that students enter alternative occupations and gain experience outside the design sector.

‘Look for jobs in industries that have vacancies – I mean, if you want to design restaurants, it is good to have worked in one or two,’ he says.

Branding guru Michael Peters concurs, saying, ‘There is too big a supply of young designers and far too many people doing mediocre work.’

According to recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics, every sector of the economy recorded a fall in vacancies last quarter.

Chartered Institute of Personnel chief economist Dr John Philpott says, ‘This looks to be a jobs recession that is favouring the over-50s ahead of younger people. This may be because employers are implementing recruitment freezes more widely than in previous recessions, which disproportionately hits people entering the labour market.’

To read more of Cochrane and Peters’ views on employment issues in design, see the next issue of Design Week, published online tomorrow and on newsstands on Thursday.

Hide Comments (45)Show Comments (45)
  • No Name November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Well, thank you for the encouragement.. I can’t believe in this time of doom and gloom that a person of his stature has passed a comment like that.

    Yes there are few jobs, but design shouldn’t be elitist and confined to stale talent. All young creatives bring new energy and enthusiasm which all good teams need.

  • pissed November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    This article is insensitive and stupid, how are you gonna tell students who have got themselves into massive debt by going to design schools to suddenly switch to something else, maybe if the industry wasnt driven by greedy suits then everybody would get a chance to work. The industry “gurus” and “heavy weights” just want cheap labour that is ready to work as soon as they come out of univeristy, without actually contributing to the education or development of young artists. Why dont give go teach some courses if you are so concerned.

  • Tobi Laniyan November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I just came across this article and I do agree with Michael peters about design education and the numbers of students taking design. However i think that this so called recession will bring out the best in students wanting to enter the job market and give them a wakeup call to strive to get more and more experience plus it would make prospective students think twice about taking design courses and realize that it’s not an easy ride.

    This is a great time for specialism such as brand identity and other design sectors as a whole but it will be a challenge getting it right.

  • anon November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    An interesting article with good advice given the challenging times ahead. As previous comments highlight, it’s clearly going to be a bitter pill to swallow. What astounds me is the belief of some students that the industry ‘owes’ them employment. Its time they learnt that these are businesses, and they simply cannot employ students when there isn’t the client work out there to pay for them.

  • Linden Davies November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    As a designer with some experience I have to say I agree with Cochranes comments at some level, however, his point of view is perhaps a little insensitive.

    There are indeed more design graduates than there are design jobs (this isn’t a phenomenon limited to design either) but we should be encouraging and nurturing talent so that the future of our creative industries is maintained and fed with new talent from the bottom as well as upheld from the top. I wouldn’t dream of advising someone to stop studying design if this was something they felt drawn to.

    I think some balance is required. I would say it is important, especially at the present time, for any student of (as well practicing ones) to be mindful and realistic about their abilities. If you have a passion but perhaps lack some skill, then don’t expect to land a top job. Use this insight to make informed choices about what you want to do and how you might do it. View gaps in your knowledge and abilites as opportunites. Working in a restaurant, office, store or anything else will undoubtably provide inspiration and experience that might just help you develop your own career path.

    Employers might be looking to bolster their positions right now with the best talent they can find; this is really important for business. But asa important are the people who are just starting their own journey; don’t forget the talent you’ve yet to meet.


  • lets face it November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I think it is time to face the truth and this article is full of it. It does not have anything to do with being elitist or else the fact is there are more people finishing University again this year than there are jobs. The biggest learning a designer should have made during education is that they are problem solvers, these are needed anywhere especially in times like these. I think it speaks of extrem narrow mindedness if people speak out like the two previous comments, if you are a good designer you will find a place to work and contribute your design thinking to whatever that might be. Just don’t get stuck with the traditional jobs, think creative and really think what you would like to do and lets face it it will not be easy to find a job at the moment not for people who already have experience and not for people who are straight out of University, but in a recession there are always also opportunities for bright ideas, they just won’t come on a golden platter!

  • Steven Eltringham November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I have just graduated and i am looking for work, and i do agree that the supply of new designers is far higher than the current demand. However i do not believe that telling young designers to ‘get out’ is in any way going to help the industry as a whole. Its not just young designers that are producing mediocre work there are alot of established design professionals that are producing equally mediocre work as well.

    I would like to know why many design managers seem to belive that fresh graduates have nothing to give, and are incapable of generating high quality work, yes we might noit have as much experince of the world, but it doesn’t mena that the training we have doen is any less valuable, or somehow has not taught us how to design, or be creative.

    It has been said many times that if your standing still in business your going backwards, so why would an industry that is supposed to be at the cutting edge be wanting to stay with the same ways of doing things and relying on the same people with the same ideas?

  • Art Director November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    It’s a fair point. The colleges are churning out students with no talent, no skills and no passion for design. The sooner they knock it on the head the better for all of us. There is no way on earth more than 10% will ever find jobs. There just aren’t the positions especially with India and China in the mix.

  • Evan Smith November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    This is fair enough and understandable due to the current climate. However, this is only one persons opinion, as a graduating student I know how difficult it is going to be to find a job but no body should try and dissuade any one from following a career aim that they are passionate about. In my opinion you get what you put in, and if you work hard to get your self out there to as many people as possible then opportunities will come. It is never good to have such a negative attitude, a balance realistic and positive hard working attitude is a better approach to the current situation. There is also the possibility of freelancing.

  • William Lucking November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    hmm.. Maybe the pressure of the current economic climate is getting to Mr. Cochrane! I would have hoped a man with his wealth of experience would truly understand and appreciate the benefits and advantages that a young, enthusiastic designer can bring to a business. Fresh blood and fresh ideas can provide a lot of insightful prompts to the existing design team, and even management (No, you are far from perfect most of the time). Sorry Mr. Cochrane but coming from a design manger who must rouse and inspire creativity and innovation within a team, I find your words about as insightful and energising as warm pile of fly infested dog faeces. Good day to you sir!

  • James Windsor November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    What a pessimistic and pointless statement. The recession won’t last forever and although the design industry is overcrowded, you shouldn’t be advising people to give it up. What exactly are design students meant to do then? Leave their course and start a new degree? It’s hard for everyone at the moment — not just design.

  • Selina November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am


    “According to recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics, every sector of the economy recorded a fall in vacancies last quarter.”

    If this is so, then what advantage is our “irrelevant” degree going to have over someone who trained in a specific area?

    Some students may be able to “avoid design”, but what about us graduates with our degree and debt already?

  • Career Advisor November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Hurray, how encouraging. That’s just what everyone needs in difficult times. He should put himself in a student’s position.

    However, for comedy value I would in fact like to see every student in the country do precisely what he says: ‘avoid design’ – completely, forever and aspire only to work in restaurants and never anything more.

    I bet there would be more of an interest in cheap young student designers just out of university then.

  • Amy Anscomb November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    This article will not achieve anything except to dissuade new and up coming designers who would be a benefit to the industry. yes the industry is cutting back its junior design jobs significantly but to tell students to give up is ridiculous. There is plenty of very poor design being produced in the industry as well as impressive work the same can be said for students. Why alienate young designers with new and fresh ideas when i am sure many design companies have disposable members of their teams! Determined students will make their way into the design industry despite closed minded long term members of the industry. Students are aware of the current situation and the competitive spirit of design and yet they continue to study, why would the industry not want these determined, passionate people working alongside current designers.

  • Samantha November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I graduated in June I was lucky enough to get work experience whilst on my degree, came out sent my c.v out to agencies, and anywhere that I could basically travel to easily… after one week I had 3 job interviews one in london canary wharf, one local to me and one in Guilford… and i was offered all 3 of them… so I do really believe there are jobs out there… I know this was 6 months ago, but if you are passionate enough about design then your talent will shine through. Cochrane obviously hasn’t come across much talent for a while, but I bet when he gets students come to him, he probably doesn’t even bother to look at their work. I know it is probably hard to look through everyones c.v’s but there are alot of students with talent, who shouldn’t give up.
    Who is he to say give up? if someone told him to give up when he was a student do you think he would be where he is today?

  • free lance designer November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Our generation of graduates will one day be the next generation of Creative Directors, Managing Directors and god forbid own our own studios. If you want all that to happen, and the quality of our industry to be maintained, best support those entering it!

  • Andy Myring November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The same, negative argument could be said for all types graduates every time there is a recession. This country produces some of the best innovators and creative people in the world.It is this creative talent that will get us out of the mess we find ourselves – not bankers or accountants. The UK needs fresh design talent with energy and ideas. Maybe the government should invest more in design companies and new designers to ensure that this talent isn’t lost. Sure, the recession is going to be tough, but the UK needs to look to the future rather than being “frozen in the headlight”.

  • manifold November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I concur with some of the comments, that this may not be the most positive message to send out at a time like this. But the sooner we all deal with the reality – students included – or especially students we can start finding solutions sooner rather than later when it may be too late. As it will be the lowest in the pecking order that will suffer the most, no matter how talented you are, with the exception of a very few. It is the nature of the industry that those before you, some of who produce the most mediocre work and gallingly some of whom never even formally studied design themselves but ‘knew the right people’, will sacrifice getting new blood in just so that they may continue to enjoy 1 or 2 expensive lunches while staying afloat during the recession. Brand new fresh talent will take a back seat as long as their clients/chums are satisfied with the unexceptional work they continue to churn out. So all bright eyed graduates and students should keep in mind ‘forewarned is forearmed’!

  • Jim Richardson November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The skills taught in design school can be applied to many industries, and I think that rather then students being advised to avoid the sector, they should be educated in the wider opportunities available to them.

    Afterall, how many students graduate with the aim of working in a inhouse design department or a printers.

    Too many students seem to graduate with the aim of working in a small number of high profile design agencies, this is not a new problem caused by the credit crunch.

    Students need to be given realistic expectations by Universities and many are just not good enough to find work at the top level in any economic climate.

    Jim Richardson, Managing Director. Sumo

  • Jeff Cooper November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    With all the doom and gloom that surrounds us at the moment such negative comments are not particularly constructive. Of course employment is going to be harder to find – design is no different to every other profession in this respect. But the world is not about to end. The recession will not last forever and when the good times return those that have stuck with their studies will enter an exciting and prospering industry.

  • Anonymous November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    A little intimidated are we?

    If you’re unsure of whether or not you want to be a designer than you may want to think twice, otherwise just take this article as proof that the old line-o-type designers are scared shitless.
    Like any field you need to compete for your job. This article has the same tone as the union workers in texas who shoot mexicans on sight at the border because they’re scared they’ll take their jobs.

    Design graduates today, while they may not already have a place in a prestigious firm, are more qualified for 21st century design than any of these old fools. Young people are the ones setting the new trends, creating the images that businesses want to have, and who have the training that overpowers their elders’ years of experience with antique tools and flat two dimensional lifeless images.

    Sure we might not all make it at first, but even those who don’t will eventually be showing up bureaucrats like Ian Cochrane.

    We’re not giving up our dreams because you don’t want to work for yours.

  • Jeff November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Well, this blithering idiot has fully motivated me!?
    As I start a major brief as part of my degree, maybe I should consider my efforts in the restaurant industry?
    Is it possible for talent to shine through? Yes! Like any occupation, recession or not, if you are a passionate young person and care about what you do employers see this.
    Who is he to suggest that there is no hope in a time when this is exactly what graduates need.

  • Chad Hodkinson November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I do agree partially to the above but what I think is the problem is 70% of designers are bog-standard, trained with the basics in the Adobe software. Where personally any body can buy the software now and learn it. What is a true designer is the ability to create, naturally and combining it with digital to create amazing work and I think students like me now are clouded over by bog-standard designers. Im doing a BA in Graphic arts and design and its all creative and the software you have to learn at ur own pace away from the course, and there are people on my course with amazing work.

  • Ian McArthur November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Ian Cochrane betrays a frighteningly narrow view on what ‘design’ is. Judging from the majority of comments here, also disheartening is the amount of so called ‘creatives’ who apparently agree with such an ignorant perspective. I find it hard to comprehend that there are creative minds out there that feel any individual, industry or society would suffer from an education in design. What we actually need is more people exposed to design education at a younger age. Steven Eltringham is closest to the real mark in pointing out that one of the big benefits of learning design is (one hopes) the acquisition of problem solving skills. Maybe the point of design education is not so much to become a designer in the sense that so many here appear to see the role (i.e. a job in advertising, branding or some such equivalent) but to see it as a broader education applicable across a multiplicity of industries. Problem solving abilities, communication skills, collaborative strengths, creative and innovative thinking are all desperately needed if we are to come anywhere close to digging ourselves out of the mess most of the world appeared to be mired in. Narrow thinking delivers narrow outcomes. Design thinking as a skillset is widely applicable.

  • David Moody November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    As a current mature student on a Graphics degree course, I can see some relevance to his opinion. There are some graduates whose work may not be good enough to work at the top design agencies but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t find employment. The problem is that you are encouraged to find placements with desirable design agencies and yes possibly work for free but gain valuable experience at the same time. The reality then is that the top 100 design companies very rarely need new staff. I think then that a lot of graduates become unhappy working for a company that maybe doesn’t produce cutting edge design but churns out consistently good basic products such as basic log design and leaflets but there are still plenty of basic design/marketing jobs about that offer that first opportunity to get your foot in the door.
    The worst case scenario is taking a non design job to start with but your chances of finding a job with a degree are going to be more successful than the majority.

  • M Brydson November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Cochrane has just clarified what we have known for years that art and design is elitist with extremely limited opportunity except for a few but surely a degree is good to have regardless of subject and design is a such a fun & interesting one to-do, no doubt the universities will be spitting feathers at his comment but it is refreshingly honest.

  • Anon November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    This does come across as insensitive tosh to anyone who actually works in the industry right now. In Design, like all industries really, the real profit margin is made from those on the ‘shop floor’, the newly qualified, and the lower waged. Every design company ‘tribe’ rests critically on a constant supply of first class Indians and can’t support too many chiefs (they are expensive). A lot of companies right now have the problem of medium to heavyweight designers who aren’t moving on so they have a huge pay roll without the raw (and cheaper) talent coming through the door – that needs to be addressed. Both Michael and Ian know how the sums add up – they have run enough consultancies (and very very profitable ones) in their time, so I am surprised to hear the comments quoted here. Graduates are not just the new blood of the industry they are the life blood. Any company that is not addressing this and just putting up a ‘No Vacancies’ sign is guilty of shortsightedness – it’s as daft as deciding not to market your company in a recession because you feel you would be better saving the money. If you want to come out of this mess with a balanced, healthy and competitive business then take your head out of the sand – keep recruiting and marketing.

  • Garrick Hamm November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Dear Design Week

    I have to pick Ian Cochrane up on his sweeping statement that we should discourage people from entering the design industry. Of course he’s right that job opportunities are few, and times are bleaker than ever, but he misses the point that young talent is the very lifeblood of creative industries. It would be tragic to point someone with great potential towards an Aldi graduate programme. For many young people design is a vocation, not an option.

    Our industry has a greater problem lurking in being populated by a lot of forty-something managers and consultants who want fat salaries to deliver complacency. There’s also the fact that studios that used to have a natural churn of staff are increasingly populated by ‘lifers’. We need the new new or our businesses will stagnate. So, ironically, the impetus of recession might be better directed to helping some people into ‘pastures old’.

    My advice to despairing graduates is to believe that talent usually rises to the surface. A sharp creative mind will find new ways to navigate new obstacles.

    Garrick Hamm
    D&AD President

  • Mr King November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    lesson one on my degree, blew away any illusions.
    * It is hard work.
    * Long hours.
    * Reasonably badly paid for a degree qualified job.
    * Those not good enough will be kicked into touch early.
    * Those out of touch by 40 will be looking for a new job.

    I never forgot this. And never expected it to be a walk in the park. 15 years later I run a successful agency.

    The key is for students to grasp the realities of the world. The very best are snapped up. The best ones are welcomed walmly. The average find themselves filling in odd positions no one wants. The poor perrish.

    I do not blame the students but the institutions for not giving them the truth and letting poor students onto the courses to fill them up.

    Peters is right when he mentions supply and demand is all wrong

  • johnbarnesscoresgoals November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    as a recent graduate (2006) I was all too aware of the generally poor and low quality work that was allowed in university. I was on one of the worlds ‘best’ courses for transport and product design, and I myself was one of the poorer students.

    Unfortunately, it has taken two years of hard work to get a good, but low paid, position as a designer. I don’t doubt that I could only have helped myself in Uni, but I also hold the education establishments responsible for accepting and keeping too many students on courses. This made resources and tutoring thin on the ground, and means the students with promise (I beleive I was one of those) fall by the way side as they do not get the encouragement, or kick up the a**e they deserved.

    Numbers mean money, and universities are another money making business. The British governments have alot to answer for on this issue, and it affects other creative industries too.

  • Alistair Williamson November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Cochrane & Peters are totally right – but it’s not just a recession issue. For 20+ years a large part of the UK design education sector has failed young people & failed the design profession. Too many graduates out of too many mediocre design courses, with few jobs at the end is nothing new. Some of the worst University departments have even had to set up thir own design consultancies to create a career path for graduates. The vast majority of design graduates have always had to draw on transferrable skills to work outside of design. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if some Universities prospectuses acurately reflected the low percentage of graduates in design employment, young people might be making different course choices. There are a few opportunities in UK design, but we’re competing in a world where many graduates from overseas are simply better educated & get the work. In many countries colleges focus on quality over quantity – sadly only a few in the UK do. The stupid thing about over-supply is that really clever, creative people are bright enough to realise that there are careers with far easier & better prospects than design – they go on to study other subjects. Design is losing out on some of the UKs best talent. Graduates should be criticising the education institutions that fail them, not the industry that has never asked for them to go there in the first place.

  • Claire November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I work for a successful, mid sized Design and Communications agency in London. Mr. Cochrane raises some valid concerns and there is sound reasoning in his advice. There is no denying that the climate is tough at the moment and yes, getting into the industry as a graduate at the moment is even tougher. It is also important to remember, however, that some of the most creative and innovative flourish during a recession. You only have to look at how Apple grew in the last economic downturn to see this is true. Survival of the fittest. Serious times call for serious, realistic and innovative thinking. Something that young, hungry, fresh designers should have bundles of! Clients want to know that their agency is offering creative solutions that will deliver measurable results and make their brands work exceptionally hard for them right now. For us, investing in some seriously good young talent now makes a lot of sense in keeping us fresh and nimble enough to adapt to the climate both now and in the future. Students/grads – its not about GETTING out. Its about STANDING out. Remember ‘Good enough’ is not enough!

  • Ian Rigby November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    From my experience a Recruitment Director in the Creative Industry, graduates need to start thinking commercially and promoting themselves as an agency would – being pro-active, networking, doing free pitches and getting voluntary work on board. The work ethic has softened a lot in the last 10 years and Graduates of all sectors need to recognise that hard work, passion and persistence are what moulded the winners of today. I’m sure that this is one thing that the recession will be good for – bringing back old fashion values.

  • Jonathan Alport November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Ian’s solution to the graduate situation seems quite harsh but I agree that it’s time that we all started to grasp nettles and address difficult issues that will concern the people and businesses within our industry.

    We all should realise that the down-turn will have a big effect on the industry, but for someone who established and grew a practice during the last recession, I can remember it being a very innovative time where new technologies, initiatives and businesses were spawned.

    I would suggest that one key area in particular that the design and creative industries has consistently failed to address properly, and it’s arguably one of the most important and difficult ones to crack…its the way we incubate and nurture the ‘life-blood’ of our businesses…our talent.

    We all know that in an ideal world creative businesses want direct access to the best international creative and strategic talent, but few have the mechanisms and time to do it in a considered way.

    In many cases traditional recruitment agencies appear to act more as a barrier to finding the key people whilst the technology driven option – the online job board – just makes the activity of identifying and assessing talent even more time consuming and hit and miss.The whole process is antiquated, untrusted and broken.

    Employers, professional mentors and talent should be able to interact in a ‘live’ and secure way…creative businesses must be given the correct support from ‘people in the know’ who can work with them to attract and build an inventory of ‘on-brand’ talent using dynamic and bespoke tools.

    In-turn, all individuals serious about their career in the design industry should be given access to a place where they have to work hard at ‘creating desire’ by building a profile that truely illustrates their work, skills and experiences.

  • simon b November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Perhaps Mr Cochrane should ‘Get out of the proffession’ if he thinks potential designers should not persue what they want from life just because some crusty old know it all thinks there are too many students.

    The fact of the matter is there are too many students graduating from all sectors and only the ones who put in the work will get the jobs they want.

    Its called competition and a lack of it will only damage the design industry.


  • Laura Woodroffe November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    This article certainly cooked up a storm. And with good reason, it’s a sensitive subject. But all the emotion that the article has prompted is obscuring a crucial issue for designers.

    The design industry struggles to maintain its credibility when pitted against other professions. Designers often express frustration that their problem-solving abilities are not taken more seriously outside of their own profession; or that the full potential of the design process is rarely appreciated by non-designers. This in turn impacts on the sector’s ability to attract a broad range of the brightest people.

    A widely accepted marker of a ‘serious’ profession is the existence of good education and career progression – and at the very least the provision of good advice. Will bright and talented people investigating design careers read ‘refreshingly honest’ comments like this and think, ‘Brilliant, that’s the career for me’? Actually they’ll probably go and look into Law instead, where the advice from senior practitioners is bit less banal than ‘Get a job in a restaurant, it’ll help you understand hospitality litigation’ and where over-supply of graduates is handled by proper recruitment processes. And this is a great shame because design is a fabulous career to be in and it does have the will and the resource to progress people’s careers properly.

    Whether or not these comments are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ is only one question. We should also consider that they may represent a knee-jerk and poorly thought-out response to an issue that has many and complex causes, ranging from reforms in education to the global economic crisis. They don’t do the design industry justice.

    Interestingly I have another newspaper article sitting on my desk entitled ‘Design Talent Faces Future on the Dole’, but this one was written in 1985. The parallels are quite remarkable – you can see parts of it on our blog next week.

    And to all the graduates out there, if you really have the passion and the talent you will make it, don’t give up or be discouraged by articles like this. If you need some advice get in touch with D&AD.

    Laura Woodroffe, Education and Professional Development Director, D&AD.

  • Philippa November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I graduated with a 2.1 BA in Graphic Communication Branding and Packaging, I had a great reference from my course at SIAD in 2004. It’s now 2009 and I am an Office Manager for a small design firm that i have worked at for a year and a half. There are plenty of other jobs within design that you can apply for. Graduates don’t all need to be designers. These other jobs can often provide useful experiance and oppotunities to grow within the design industry. It takes time, but it’s worthwhile.

  • simon b November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Considering your all supposed to be designers wheres the consideration of the human in this arguement. Something tells me that kids about to go to uni dont think ‘hmmm…..what jobs are there lots of vacancies in…… i know ill be a Waiter’

    Lets be honest thats not how it works, people at that stage in their life probably dont have quite such an objective view as Mr Cochrane.

  • Eleanor Ashworth November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I think Mr Cochrane misses the point about what motivates someone with a true passion for design. I already have a degree which hasn’t led me into career I care about.Through various other middle of the road jobs, waitressing , bar work, retail and general jobs that dont offer me anything substantial to feed my creative desire, I have found myself working at an Architects in administration. But it is here I have realised my potential design abilities. I wish to study interior design and It wll probably take me the next 4/5 years to complete this. I am now 25 still struggling financially , paying for my course out of my part time wages. I don’t do this in the naivety that as soon as graduate ‘ll get an amzing job. I am doing this because it excites me, I know I will be good at it, I know I will work hard to be successfull. Regardless of the state of the industry. It is my ambition/ dream, and you do not compromise on something you have set your heart on. Mr Cochrane should take a step back and remember what it was that spurred him on when he was young. I doubt it was wanting to be a waiter in a bar.( Not that theres anything worng with that) We’d all be foolish if we didnt follow what we thought to be our passion. Life is for the taking , no matter how hard it might be. You only get the once chance. You may at leat try.

  • James Woudhuysen November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    One doesn’t need to believe that there are too many design students, or that the job of consultancies is now to cut headcount, to agree that designers need all the real-world experience they can get. So when Ian Cochrane says ‘if you want to design restaurants, it is good to have worked in one or two,’ he’s right.

    The outstanding feature of design education today is its complete corruption by unworldly sustainababble, in which the redesign of a kettle to lower the CO2 supposedly coming out of it is regarded as the most radical statement a designer can make. In fact, the only one.

    Against that, some hands-on postgraduate dishwashing would actually be no bad thing.


  • Rod Gritten November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I’m currently working for a design engineering consultancy in cambridge on a student placement. Why would anyone who has spent the time and money on potentialy a three or four year design course be put off by the recession? Its not going to last forever so don’t let this put you off. Two many students end up in dead end jobs which is what Mr Cochrane is pretty much telling you to do. Yes design jobs maybe few and far between at the moment but there out there if you look hard enough. The recession has a knock on effect to everyone so don’t think us students are being singled out either. If design is what you love doing then stick with it. Those that keep at it are those who will succeed.

  • Substance or Style November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Talking from the view point of a graphic design graduate and now a freelance graphic designer it is possible to see both sides of the arguement. What I will say is that this is a very exciting time for design graduates.
    By securing a work placement straight after uni, that became my first full time design job and I’ve been able to work in graphic design consistently since.
    The reason this should be an exciting time for graduates is because this is a time when creative companies need to compete more than before so they need the best talent to do the job for the best possible rate. Graduates are generally filed with bags of creativity and are eager to learn. One could argue that graduates are the way forward for design companies in this recession.
    Work experience is key to new designers getting the kind of jobs that they want. Not only will it look good on your CV but it will give you real work to add to your portfolios.
    There is no doubt that this is a difficult time for any graduate looking for work and even more difficult to enter into an industry as competitive as the creative, but it may surprise some to know that after the finance sector the creative is the second largest in the UK and it provides 1 in every 5 new jobs so there are jobs out there.

  • Helene November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Sounds to me like Mr Cochrane is worried he’ll lose jobs to the fantastic talent that is coming out of design schools now! I know I’m in awe of some of the amazing designs I’m looking at. And I admire and envy this young generation’s energy, computer savviness, ability to adapt and ecological sensitivity. I had to take a long-distance course (which I’m nearly finished with) and I am aware of my limitations in my situation. I did once almost give it up because of this but I couldn’t help but return to it. It’s a passion and no-one can deny you this however bad things may seem. You have to be true to yourselves. The only thing I will agree with is that we will need to widen our horizons and look at other areas/specializations of design where we might, at this stage of the game, be more quickly able to express our skills. This might even be a good thing. It might be an opportunity to pick out an area of design and research and learn it like no other. Become super knowledgeable in one field, become an expert in that and you will be in demand, esp. when things pick up again, because they will.

  • freelance designer 88 November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The Graphic design industry in the UK

    Sexist ,raciest, arrogant, ageist,
    A huge north south divide. Flooded with cheap foreign freelancers. Recruitment agency’s who take to much cut from freelancers and so called finders fee that cripple agencies. Clients who are dismayed by over hyped and confusing work in a already difficult climate. Poor pay and a clear disrespect to both inhouse designers and designers outside of studios.

    Better to lay that down and say you need to be both determined, talented and thick skinned multi skilled and willing to do what you enjoy somewhere other than a design studio than saying your not needed at all.

  • jim November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    As a recent product design graduate, I have been fortunate enough to get my first role within a company very early on after graduation. However – as a strong believer that design education is a great asset I must agree with the quotes in this article. This is the harsh reality of what we do and there is an over-supply of ‘under-trained’ graduates looking for work.
    The blame for all of this should be targeted at the higher authorities of universities. I do know for a fact that uni’s want more and more students on courses because they generate money and popularity at the higher end. Some courses are terrible for teaching design but are quite happy to hand out certificates. I feel sorry for the young designers out there that are enthusiastic, talented and want to learn and compete in industry, because they are the only students who are bothered enough to realise how serious this issue is, and that the people at the top within universities are wrecking there chances of succeeding. Universities are often now run as a business rather than an educational service.

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