It’s not just hammers and colouring in!

Design can lead to employment opportunities! Design can get you a job, I know this from experience. From the day I graduated I’ve never been short of work and after 5 years in industry I had to turn down a job as an engine designer to become a teacher, a fact my students find verging on the insane, but the best decision I ever made. Design took me around the world, earnt me good money, indulged my love of solving problems and was ridiculously good fun. Being a designer can lead you into so many fields and give you a life long, well paid, well respected career. That all said sometimes convincing parents, students and even colleagues that we are more than just a “fun” subject can be a hard sell. We have good links with Maths, Science, IT, History, English, Marketing, Psychology, PE, Art, Media, Business and we lead everywhere. Everything we touch, watch, read, listen and wear in life has had a designers influence so we offer almost endless opportunities but still our value can be underrated by so many. So this year when educating your students about options and career choices let facts and figures aid your discussions.

Each year the Higher Education Careers Service Unit (HECSU), Prospects and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) carry out their annual Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey (DLHE). This simple survey is sent to all graduates in the UK to find out what they are doing 6 months after graduation from their degree. This survey normally gets around 80% return and gives a good impression of what the graduates are doing and what sectors of the economy are buoyant and which areas of employment are less in demand. They publish their findings in the “What Graduates Do!” document, which is well worth a read, to give young people advice on career paths. I have taken the raw data from this lengthy document and put all the key figures into a single page document so comparisons are easily made. Please feel free to download this document and use it to help options discussions with your students.

Download Graduate_Careers document in pdf format.

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Understanding the figures!

To make best use of the page above you need to first understand a few key points. Firstly it has boiled down the figures into 3 basic categories, employability, unemployment and career path destination. On the left is the 28 headings the survey splits all degree’s into and the figure of graduates who have employment 6 months after their graduation. I have ordered the categories in rank order of employment so Marketing graduates have a 82.3% employment rate while Physics graduates have only 46.1% but this is not the entire story. The second set of columns ranks the categories in terms of unemployment and like the first set of columns highlights the best five in green and worse five in red. Now you may wonder why you need to see both, well it isn’t as simple as who has a job. For example Sports Science are about mid table in terms of employment but are top of the table for unemployment meaning although not all graduates are employed only 4.3% are not being productive (unemployed) while the rest are in further study, training, research or in unpaid positions. In contrast IT and Computing has a far better employment but the worst unemployment of any subject so while more get jobs more also simply end up unemployed and few go on to further study. It is important to look at both employment and unemployment to understand the table fully.

The final set of columns are looking at what type of employment the graduate has, so I have given you the top sector for each category, i.e. once graduated what is the most common job those graduates get (including the percentage in that sector) and then I have added all the employment types together which are related to the degree they hold. This gives you and your students and idea of what those graduates do, for example for History graduates almost 60% get jobs and of that 59.9%, 19.1% are working in retail, catering, waiting and bar staff and only 8.4% get jobs relating to their degree. After all it is not just about getting a job, it is about getting a job doing the thing you trained to do and some career choices are far better for this than others.

A few things to remember!

Firstly these 28 degree types cover a huge variance within each of them and can only give a snap shot of the sector, for example Hospitality, Leisure, Tourism and Transport covers a huge amount of varied careers and although the figure shows us on average 81% get employment it won’t tell you figures for chef’s or catering graduates in particular. In equal respect Design covers everything from set design and interior design to CAD and industrial design all of which have very different employment prospects but for clarity are merged to one figure. Also some careers are very noticeable by their absence for example medicine is not in here as Doctors have to complete at least one year foundation after graduation before being registered to practice medicine so this survey would just show all are still in education. It is worth noting though medicine has a very high employment of around the 90% figure but this is career average rather than 6 months post graduation so the figure is not really comparable but still very high ranking. Also remember when deciding which sectors were “using” the degree I had to make assumptions about which sectors were relevant but this last column is the only data created by myself, while the rest is direct from the survey results. Last but not least remember just because a degree in a subject does not lead to a job does not mean a GCSE or A Level in that subject won’t. For example Physics is pretty poor in terms of job opportunities for graduates but an A Level in physics leads to many very employable degree’s such as engineering.

How does Design and Technology compare!

Well this is where I think we can all sing the praises of our beloved subject. On the table in grey are the DT subject, all of which are in the top 10 for employment, a few of which are also in the top 5 for unemployment and employment destination. Noticeable stand out careers are Architecture and Civil Engineering. Architecture took a little dip in around 2012 but now looks like it is now fully refreshed and once again offering excellent career prospects. Civil Engineering continues to grow and continues to offer good pay, good progression and good employment opportunities. Design is also looking buoyant as are the prospects for our dedicated young hospitality students. Engineering continues to be a shortage subject as highlighted in “Professor John Perkins’ Review of Engineering Skills 2013” suggesting a year on year need for around 100’000 STEM graduates while other Government publications suggest a specific shortfall by 2050 of 36’500 Engineers. The catering industry also employs around half a million people while the restaurant industry alone is set to be worth £52bn by 2017 so all in all the creative industries as a whole are looking good for the future.

Design Technology is under pressure, in these times of austerity we are expensive, in these times of EBacc we are not on the guest list, and in these times of reform many of our “specialties” are soon to be on no list. Underlying all this pressure though we still have lots to shout about. We offer undeniable transferable skills, we teach the kids to think not just listen, we help them with their english, add purpose to their maths and teach them more science and IT than they every realise. Best of all we teach them what it is to evolve, to embrace new challenges and new technologies, we teach them never to ignore the past but always look to the future they want to create. We talk about the big issues of climate, morals, money and greed but never lecture. We are designers, we question and we want them to do the same and we know education is the most powerful gift anyone can possess. So this year when talking about options educate them about employability, educate them about prospects but educate them about the love of design, tell them about Mia Lundstrom, Stuart Craig, Jonathan Ive and the million other amazing designers doing what they love and touching each and every one of our lives. Ohh and don’t forget to tell them its fun!

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