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Design Academy increasing the employability of future designers

Design Academy increasing the employability of future designers

11 January 2017 Written by By Chris Finnegan 2014-17 Marketing and Communications Manager

Design Academy is our interactive learning experience for undergraduate designers at UK universities. The content is based on Design Council's 'Framework for Innovation', which we also deliver on MBAs, to senior civil servants, small and medium-sized businesses, large corporates and their supply chains. This academic year, Design Academy will put students from eight different universities through their paces. 

Back in 2015, Design Council piloted the programme with four design schools, one of which was Portsmouth University. The university's in-house production team made a short film about their experience featuring interviews with participating students, some of our expert Design Associates, and industry specialists who helped deliver the four-day training course.

Will Roberts, Senior Innovation Manager at RNLI, explains the value of Design Academy for the markets the designers would eventually fill: “It’s a fantastic course. You’re creating the designers of the future. You’re creating a group of people who can understand the design process; teaching them to identify needs, how to develop solutions in response to those needs and get those solutions to market.”

Design Academy emphasises tools and techniques to benefit strategic design and design for innovation. By breaking down subject boundaries and enhancing interdisciplinary practice, students optimise their versatility and employability, and gain vital leadership qualities.

Among the comments on how Design Academy is different and helpful, students listed different research methods, mixed working groups and presenting in front of an experienced audience who can then critique the project they have worked on over the course. 

It's been really beneficial to work with people from other disciplines, to learn how they think as designers. You see things from a completely different angle.

Design undergraduate, Portsmouth University

Dorneet Peters, Director of Qualitative Research at Esro, describes how Design Academy is a unique opportunity for the students taking part: “[The participants] are learning skills that will put them ahead of other students. So, when they’re entering the workplace, they’ll have this kind of thing on their CV to say: ‘I have a functional understanding of what it takes to design research, carry out that research, and from that innovate and design' – a step ahead of where other people will be.”

The programme offers design schools and universities world-class training for undergraduate students, helping to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive job market. It also benefits the partaking universities by introducing new promotional platforms to recruit talented students; a competitive edge within a crowded market place and an affiliation with a leading institution, Design Council.

The programme offers world-class training for undergraduate students that helps them differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive job market.

Roberts continued: “As undergraduates, you’re not really aware of the breadth of opportunity that your particular degree is giving you. [Design Academy] can spark that interest in terms of how things students learn now can be applied and increase their marketability, in that sense – really open their eyes.”

Lisa Pang, an Interior Architecture and Design undergraduate, spoke about some of the specific practical benefits of the course: “It’s a definitely worthwhile programme. You get to start learning how other people in the profession work – from brief making to research – and then at the end you get to do a proper project with a presentation in front of professionals, which is a really big gain for students. It was a really fulfilling programme!”

Portsmouth University is one of four universities that have registered another group of undergraduates through the Design Academy training programme already underway, their delivery begins on 16 January 2017. 

If you're a university and would like to get involved with Design Academy, please email to find out more about course fees and programme structure. 

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