Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have a fantastic news for the creative industries – and for design specifically. The high growth year on year proves once and for all that that the creative industries are outperforming the UK economy as a whole, and that design is a key engine within this sector, with its contribution growing faster than any other part of the creative industries. 

The new figures value the UK creative industries as a whole at £76.9 billion a year – contributing an incredible £8.8 million to the UK economy every hour. The creative sector as a whole is up nearly 10% from last year’s £71.4bn, growing at three times the rate of the wider UK economy – but design itself is growing at double that rate. From 2011-13, jobs in product, graphic and fashion design increased by an astonishing 17.7% building on record growth in previous years to 177,000 jobs. Design had the largest increase in Gross Value Added (GVA) during 2012-13, up 23.8%. The GVA for design in that time increased from £2.5bn to £3bn. This means the UK now has the second-largest design sector in the world and the largest design industry in Europe. 

Design in the UK is defined in the Creative Industries Economic Estimates as ‘product, graphic and fashion design’. However, design is commonly used to boost growth in businesses in the wider economy beyond the creative industries – meaning the growth in design is probably higher than estimated. The value of design exports has increased year on year over the period 2009 to 2012 (from £116m in 2009), while the value of exports of services for Architecture increased by £11m between 2011 and 2012 (from £362m to £373m). Research shows that for every £1 invested in design, companies can expect £4 increase in profits and a return of over £5 in increased exports. 

For the UK to continue to lead in design, high-quality education of both designers to meet economic demand as well as businesses to understand the potential of design investment is critical to continued success. The UK currently leads the world in design education. There are currently 847 Design Courses in the UK (UNISTAT Data, 2013).  Continued investment at all stages of design education is critical as well as awareness amongst new designers of the strategic contribution of design to business strategy. 

The design industry continues to grow in both size and stature. It is now being recognised at the highest level, with Chief Design Officers a common role in major businesses, proposals to appoint a Head of Design in every government department and a Chief User Officer on all large government infrastructure projects. Design is being recognised as a catalyst for positive change and a mechanism to increase effectiveness and efficiency.