New Designers 2016 survey highlights the importance of design education ahead of EBacc parliamentary debate (July 4)

  • 85% of this year’s New Designers studied an art or design subject at GCSE
  • Half (49%) of these graduates would not be pursuing a career in the creative industries if they had not studied an arts or design subject at GCSE level
  • 21% said visiting exhibitions and museums was their biggest influence on their decision to pursue a career in the creative industries
  • 98% feel that studying a creative subject has equipped them with transferable skills to work in closely related sectors

A survey conducted for the 31st edition of New Designers which will be opened tomorrow (Wednesday 29 June) by the award-winning illustrator of The Gruffalo, Axel Scheffler, reveals that 85% of this year’s crop of design graduates studied an arts or design subject at GCSE level. Of these emerging designers, half (49%) say that they would not still be pursuing a career in the industries, annually worth £84.1bn to the UK economy, if they hadn’t had this opportunity.* The results come on the eve of a Parliamentary debate about the exclusion of creative subjects from the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), which has been tabled for Monday 4 July.

Almost half of all respondents (46%) credited taking an art or design subject at school as the biggest influence on their choice of career, but the survey also reveals the influence of exhibitions and museums on these choices, with 21% of respondents crediting these cultural experiences as the most important influence on their decision.

New Designers, which has helped to launch the careers of well-known designers including Thomas Heatherwick and Bethan Gray, sees 3,000 of the most talented emerging designers exhibit at the Business Design Centre in London between 29 June-02 July (Part 1) and 06-09 July (Part 2) 2016. Selected from universities and colleges across the UK, this year’s exhibitors were polled by New Designers throughout April, May and June 2016 about design education, their employment prospects and the benefits of a design-related degree.

On July 4, between Part 1 and Part 2 of New Designers, MPs will debate the exclusion of arts subjects from the English Baccalaureate after over 100,000 people signed a petition about the issue. The Government is planning for at least 90% of pupils in mainstream secondary schools to be entered for the EBacc which would leave less room for students to pursue creative subjects in schools. Recent official figures have shown a year-on-year decline of 46,000 applications to study creative subjects at GCSE level since the introduction of the EBacc. Design and Technology has been the subject most affected with 19,000 fewer applicants.

Ahead of the parliamentary debate on July 4, New Designers is holding a meeting with tutors and industry to discuss The EBacc and the future of Design Education which will be chaired by Deborah Annetts – Coordinator of the Bacc for the Future Campaign and Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

Isobel Dennis, Director of New Designers comments:

“The UK has for decades been a global leader in its art and design education and it is this incredible system that contributes to our Creative Industries which currently represents an impressive £84.1bn to our economy.”

“We are a creative nation, so for the Government to actively communicate that creative subjects are not a credible part of the EBacc system would appear very ill-thought through and potentially damaging for our future economy. It is vital for successful businesses to engage with the design thinking, problem-solving, creativity and innovation that these young graduates possess to keep them competitive and leaders within their field”

*UK’s Creative Industries are now worth £84.1bn according to Department for Culture, Media & Sport