state of the design industry in the uk?

hello everyone,

I am a recent graduate, currently on an internship in europe. This finishes in the fairly near future and then it is likely that I will be looking for work back in the uk, probably London. What Im wondering/worried about is the job market situation there as a result of the financial problems and whether there are actually any junior industrial/product design jobs to be had.

what are your thoughts/experiences on the current state of design in the uk and how it is being affected by the credit crunch?


It’s very hard at the moment, especially in the south. For most of the jobs you will be looking at working in the Midlands or up north - the few places in London all seem to be looking for Senior level designers at the moment. The other problem is that many of the bigger companies seem to be placing a freeze on recruitment. I had an interview with an international company with a design office in London, the interview went well and I got great feedback but between the interview and any decision being made a recruitment ban has been enforced over the whole company. Needless to say there is now no job for me.

My best advice is to be really flexible about where you live (I wanted to stay in Brighton to stay with my partner - after six-months I have faced up to the fact that this probably wont be possible if I want to get a job), and to approach companies directly - walk in with your portfolio if necessary.

I’ve decided to pack in the job search for a while and go traveling. Fingers crossed that the job situation may be better when I get back!

I think there are jobs out there but you might have to think a bit broader in terms of roles and company’s to go approach, like look towards packaging, exhibition, interaction design.

keep an eye on design week and other job web sites along with contact some company’s you want to work for directly.

I’ve seen three positons that I applied for cancelled due to the economic climate at the moment. If there are pvacancies, they tend to be VERY specific about candidate’s experience - e.g. you may have had 5 years in industry but what they really need is someone with telecoms experience so will take a candidate with only 2 yrs experience in that field.

Not to hijack this thread but I have a related question - is it a good idea to take a job that may not be exactly in the field (or type of campany) that you want to be in for a couple of years and hope that when the upturn comes you’ll be able to get the job that you want, or is it better to hold out for the ‘right’ job?

Peedub: If the right job isn’t available it’s better to get any job close to what you want to be, rather than hold out. Holding out won’t do you any favours (in terms of your CV, wallet etc) and will mean you have to sign on Job seekers etc (i.e less money). If you’re already working and the right job comes along, you are coming from a stronger position, because you’re showing the potential employer you have similar experience and can give good references etc, much better than at interview, saying you’ve done nothing for the past six months because you were holding out for their job. Then if you don’t get offered the position, you still have something to go back to.

Even if you take a sideways step, ie, you want to be a product designer, but work for a graphics agency, do theatre set design, work for a POS/POP company, work in the games industry etc, you’ll still have gained good office experience and client interfacing experience (and CAD software exerience) and if you need more stuff for your portfolio, enter lots of competitions - plus if you win one - even better for the CV.

At the moment, the market is very candidate rich with very few jobs, so companies have much more liberty to be very specific about what they’re looking for, just to save them time searching. To cut down on the amount of CV’s companies have to trawl through, lots of design businesses just go through agencies, asking them to send their best 5 or so candidates with X experience. If you get yourself with an agency (if you’re not already) it will help, because they do a lot of the work for you. That said they are mainly London based and don’t always have your best interests at heart.

Either that or you can write to companies asking if they’d be willing to give you a placement, you won’t get much money (in my experience, the worst ones just cover your travel costs and sandwiches), but you will earn that all important and valuable experience.

I’m not going to drop names, but yes its a bit choppy here, the big power houses of industrial design are making large numbers of redundancies, but generally i’m not sure. I am generally of the impression if your good enough you can get a job anywhere.

You not thought of the states or canada and tapping up more shoe stuff over there?

Sounds like I was expecting it to. :frowning: I guess its heavily dependent on the size/type of company and the type of work they typically rely upon. I suppose that business heavily involved in high street retail products will have a pretty tough time ahead and so are unlikely to have positions available. I wonder if there is any difference between in-house positions and those at consultancys?

Just wondering if things have changed for the better or worse since November? I’m an Australian Industrial Designer with three years experience moving to the UK in 2 weeks.

So far I’ve scoured the internet and sent out about 70 CV’s to pretty much any company that mentioned Product Design or Industrial Design on their websites. I’ve had maybe 15 replies mostly saying they aren’t hiring at the moment but will hang onto my CV should anything come up. I’ve even had a few people send encouraging comments about my CV but again they have no jobs…

So how’s the scene at the moment? and does anyone have any advice on where to go from here ?

generally the uk economy is bad, and likely to get worse, unemployment across the boad is rising.

As i mentioned before i know people that are in big names consultancies and they had made major cut backs, your talking 15+ redundancies.

Obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone, and all consultancies i know of are surving, so honestly yeah it will be tough when you get hear, but stay positivie!

Are you looking specifically to one city like London or generally in the uk?
Im not sure that it is as bad as it might seem, I think alot will depend on the type of work and company. I have a friend at a consultancy that does alot of industrial type work as opposed to consumer electronics and he tells me that they have actually been pretty busy and dont seem to be that effected. I got lucky and managed to find a job pretty quickly at Christmas I have also heard of a couple of junior spots going at very well respected firms so there are jobs out there.

I wonder if there may be more opportunites for freelancing if companies have some work on but don’t have the budget or are not confident to hire another permanent pair of hands. Could be an avenue that is worth looking into. You could prehaps try to get in touch with an agency such as Adrem who may be able to give you some leads on vacancies/freelance opportunities.

At the moment I’m looking at working in London. The only real reason is because i have friends there and places to stay.

My work in Australia was with a swimming pool accessories manufacture. So pool pumps, filters, chlorinators basically everything except the pool itself. I’m not too fussed with where I work or with what kinds of products be they consumer of industrial.

Not sure how freelancing would work as i don’t have the resources such as CAD or rendering software at the moment.

Crutch, you wouldn’t have a few contacts i could email would you ?