A survey of some of the best design graduates from across the UK, exhibiting this week at New Designers in London, has revealed significant concerns about the cost of living in London, where traditionally the majority of creative jobs have been harboured, paired with an uncertainly over the impact of Brexit on the creative industries.
Asked about where they intend to work post-graduation, of the 27.5% who intend to set up in London, 79% cite ‘more exciting creative opportunities’ as the reason. However more than 2/3 plan to avoid the capital, with over 1/3 saying that the most significant factor in their decision was that it is ‘too expensive to work and live in London’. Whilst this presents a major challenge for creative businesses looking to recruit new talent in London, it suggests a shift in the role regional centres will play in attracting and nurturing, creativity, design and innovation moving forward.
Questioned about Brexit, only 12.8% believe that the UK’s creative economy will benefit from the government’s deal while 63.3% did not. Another 23.9% stated uncertainty to the effect it will have.
Sarah Monk, portfolio director of New Designers, comments: "Graduates always face uncertainty as they start to find their way in the commercial world, but the spectre of Brexit coupled with an unattainable housing market makes for a particularly unsettling economic environment. We can be sure, however, that a design education has equipped them with the problem solving, entrepreneurial and creative skills that they will need to make their way in the world. There is certainly still a thirst for fresh creative talent in the businesses who recruit and commission from the show and we warmly welcome our new sponsors this year including Sainsbury's Home, Tesco, Joseph Joseph and Joules."
Clare Hopkins, head of creative at Hallmark, recruits from New Designers and says: “Hallmark Cards are based in Bradford, West Yorkshire where we have just moved to brand new studios. There are many pros to being ‘Up North’, one being the cost of living which is much lower than in and around London. As well as Bradford itself, we’re also on the doorstep of the amazing music, art, culture and nightlife available in Leeds, York, Manchester and Hull, which is 2017’s UK City of Culture.”
Michelle Bowen, director of UK Young Artists, a New Designers Associate Awards sponsor, says: "As a national organisation based in the East Midlands we recognise the negative impacts that living and working in London has on young creatives and whilst we do not want to see London losing is cultural cache, we do welcome how new regional centres of excellence such as Nottingham have benefited from new graduates staying or coming to the city and the positive impact that this brings to many aspects of city life. As an organisation that works globally - on uniting UK artists for invaluable intercultural exchange, the Brexit referendum result came as a disappointment. Now, more than ever, we must come together and continue to build bridges, cross borders and break down walls."
Despite concerns, the survey also revealed confidence in the talent of the UK’s creative workforce. Asked about the secret to the country’s strong creative sector, worth £87.4bn to the economy each year, 28% credit ‘excellent creative education in universities’, most of which are represented within New Designers each year. Many also believe that ‘we have an entrepreneurial creative culture’ (20%), ‘a design-led businesses culture’ (21.3%) or that ‘the UK is an inherently creative country’ (21.3%).
2/5 of the new graduates hope to run their own creative business within the next five years, while another 1/5 plan to secure work with a major brand – many of which are recruiting from the show, including John Lewis, Kingfisher, Hallmark, Joseph Joseph, Pentland Brands, Mars, Sainsbury’s Home and Tesco. Employers will be spoilt for choice, 1/3 already have over 3 months work experience in the creative industries, highlighting the growth in entrepreneurial, brand aware young designers.
Andrew Tanner, design manager at Sainsbury’s Home says: “I started my career back at New Designers in 1997 so this show is incredibly close to my heart. We’re keen to attract the best new design talent into our in-house design team, who are responsible for over 80% of Sainsbury’s Home products. This is why we have partnered with New Designers – it is the platform for the most creative and innovative design graduates from across the nation. Through the Sainsbury’s Home Young Designer of the Year Award, we will be welcoming a rising star into our ranks as junior designer with a one year, salaried work placement.”