Design Council asks business to invest in UK skills

The Design Council is asking Government and private business to invest millions in a raft of initiatives intended to boost the value of UK design through improving skill levels.

The ideas are detailed in Design Blueprint, published last week by the Design Skills Ad visory Panel, a collaboration between the Design Council and Creative & Cultural Skills.

The report announces the establishment of a UK Design Skills Alliance, composed of a ‘small core team’, which DSAP chairman Jonathan Sands says is likely to consist mainly of those sitting on the panel.

The alliance would guide the implementation of a series of initiatives to help professionals gain new skills and business knowledge, as well as raise teaching standards in schools and colleges.

In all, the panel is seeking £5.3m funding to launch the recommendations originally mooted in last year’s report High-level Skills for Higher Value. It has raised £500000 from the Design Council so far.

The DSAP is courting business, including design groups and Govern ment departments to win further investment over the next three years, but says that securing funding is a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. ‘Private business wants to invest in something the Government is already funding, and vice versa,’ says Design Council head of design skills Lesley Morris.

Bill Rammell, Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, said at the launch of Design Blueprint that while ‘offering information and guidance [to students and potential designers] is the most important thing we can do now… it has to be a shared responsibility. We need business to invest.’

Morris adds that the nature of the design industry, mainly composed of small businesses, also makes it difficult to elicit large-scale investment. She says, ‘We have to get the approach right with the industry, by communicating to it what it stands to gain from investing in these initiatives.

‘If we can start to show what we want to do over the next few months, it will make it easier to secure investment.

We hope to be up and running by September,’ adds Morris.

But Sands calls the figure of £5.3m ‘a drop in the ocean’ compared to the funding it will take to sustain the initiatives.

‘That will enable us to trial initi atives,’ he says. ‘But the South Korean design council has an annual budget of £100m, so £5.3m must be seen as [merely] the starting point.’

Design Blueprint’s primary impetus is the growing might of emerging markets. According to Sands, building skills and knowledge is crucial to the successful future of the UK’s creative economy.

‘If we are to protect what we have in the UK, we need to invest more than anyone else to keep ourselves ahead of the game,’ says Sands. ‘We have seen the migration of some of our best design talent overseas, such as Jonathan Ive. We need to improve our skills provision to make sure talent stays here, to benefit UK plc.’

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  • Holly Mahoney November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Is there any way I can get a copy of this ‘Design Blueprint’ book? It would be very useful for my major projects – the working title of which is ‘Making Design Understood; promoting visual communication’, within which I wish to create an awareness of design at a younger age through various means of education … this book looks like it would be very useful! Cheers.

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