Designers – are they really designing their own life?

Designers – are they really designing their own life?

Despite ‘Design’ being the most popular university choice, graduates are not pursuing ‘designing’ as their career and instead, designers are looking for alternatives.

Research from Design Week highlighted that while 300,000 students graduated from design courses between 2012-2013 and 2015-2016, only one quarter resulted in ‘highly skilled and highly paid’ design jobs.

Further research from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) studied how likely students taking particular subjects are to end up in the related field as a career. Data was taken from over 600,000 recent graduates and investigated all university subjects that had more than 25 graduates between 2012-2013 and 2015-2016.

Here are some more results found by the HEFCE:

  • More students studied design as their first subject over any other subject group, overriding teacher training, medicine, dentistry, architecture and nursing.
  • Studying design was found to be more ‘specialised’ and being considered as ‘highly skilled’ in biology, psychology, French, physics, maths, art and business studies.
  • Jobs that are categorised as having ‘high skill levels’ include directors and managers of science subjects, health professionals, teaching and education professionals and business, media and public service professionals, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
  • The expected salary of a design graduate is £19,400, below that of architecture, journalism, law, maths, French, business studies and politics. The highest expected salary is dentistry at £31,800 and lowest art, £18,500.
  • Less vocational subjects tend to open graduates up to a broader range of job opportunities, including areas in business, engineering, IT, health and social care.
  • Design studies had an OSCR (occupation-subject concentration ratio) of 26%. OSCR is a percentage indicating how vocational the subject is, so how likely the students are to go into a career related to their degree.
  • Medicine and dentistry had an OSCR of 99% meaning that almost all graduates studying this field are likely to go into a related career after graduating.

It is unclear why design graduates are not entering their chosen career field after leaving university. Is it because there are fewer opportunities? Is it because the industry is not as great as a lot of students anticipated? Perhaps there will be fewer design students in the future; only time will tell. Job market opportunities shall shape graduate potential, determined by whether or not there is a surplus of careers on offer or not.

Written by Gemma Smith