Young designers are being overlooked, what can be done about it?

The industry is reacting to news that young designers may be denied opportunities because experienced designers need less training.

Recruitment data showed that in 2022, design consultancies were reluctant to hire up-and-coming talent, instead opting for more experienced employees who need less guidance and training. With that in mind, we asked designers how they felt about why it might otherwise happen and how design studios can benefit from having more up-and-coming designers on the team

DixonBaxi co-founder and ECD Aporva Baxi

We see it as essential and our responsibility to support the next generation of talent.

We have always returned to the belief that young talent – particularly through the success of our in-house academy, where many have become leaders at DixonBaxi – brings new, positive energy and ideas to the studio.

An advantage is that we train them according to the DixonBaxi way – our ethos, values ​​and principles. Additionally, it’s exciting to see someone grow and thrive, which is part of the mutual reward and appreciation.

There’s no denying that it takes commitment and time, as well as a coaching environment that nurtures creative offspring, but it’s worth it as long as you maintain the right balance of talent and expertise within the team.

DesignBridge Global CCO Emma Follett

Global economic and political pressures have severely impacted our customers, constraining schedules and budgets; While we understand that it can be “easier” to rely on experienced talent in the short term, we know this can pose a long-term problem for the agency. Juniors keep you on your toes, energize you and unmask the best on the team around you. Increasingly, they bring perspectives that differ greatly from many of our paths; especially if you are recruiting beyond the “expected” universities.

While hybrid working has created a welcome departure from the presenteeism and unsustainable hours of the traditional agency model, prolonged remote working can create a barrier between people that can make the mentoring process less intuitive. Emotions are harder to read on a screen and the natural direction and development of creative work isn’t as organic and natural; it’s not that much fun. The inspirational glue that holds a team together is harder to maintain across screens.

Throughout our work with D&AD Shift and mentoring in programs like the WPP x D&AD New Blood Academy, we have found young talent to be able to work remotely, across multiple time zones and to tight deadlines. That’s impressive and underscores the tenacity and ability of the future generation, who have had to be incredibly self-motivated, resourceful and adaptable over the past three years.

Because Design Bridge is a large agency, we were able to commit to our annual graduate program, The Start, over the long term; We have been able to hire juniors throughout the pandemic and have been able to maintain and grow our future pipeline. You can’t skip a generation of talent for the health of the agency.

POoR collective co-founder Shawn Adams

Many design firms claim that they need to invest up to a year in young talent before they bring “real” value to their business. While this may be true, young employees who are passionate and engaged have the potential to generate new forward-thinking, fee-paying ideas. They could also provide much-needed insight into a younger market.

Young professionals are usually a blank slate – especially those who come directly from their training. On the other hand, more experienced workers might find it more difficult to mold later on, as they may have practiced a certain way for many years. Ultimately, innovation comes from fresh thinking, and one place to find this is in young minds.

Emily Fox, Creative Director of Lewis Moberly

The seismic shift in work patterns caused by the pandemic seems unlikely to reverse, as the majority are still working from home, at least part of the time. For many, this has had a profoundly positive impact on their work-life balance, however, mentoring interns and up-and-coming designers remotely is undoubtedly much more difficult. Life might be easier for some, but a studio’s creative output certainly suffers without the input of fresh ideas and new perspectives. Lively dialogue from all ages and experiences is so valuable, and our visual experience of the world is evolving extremely quickly. It’s important that we nurture talent that is just entering the design industry.

Adrian Westaway, co-founder and technical director of Special Projects

It’s so important for a studio like ours to work with people with a wide range of design experiences. The most important thing we offer our clients is a different perspective, and diversity is key to finding that.

The more experienced team must be willing to put in extra work to help junior staff learn. We try to leave extra time on customer projects where more junior staff can fill in, but in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the bottom line if the work is too unfamiliar.

There has never been a better time for on-the-job learning, there is so much wonderful training that junior staff can do on the job and we often learn so much from the way they work.

Elise Santangelo-Rous, Executive Creative Director at DesignStudio London

Business after the pandemic was very uncertain. Recently we’ve seen large companies downsizing their workforce. As the bottom line is affected, budgets shrink and timelines tighten. It can be easier to hire an experienced designer who will deliver quickly and safely.

Despite this change, at DS we still believe it is our responsibility to help shape the future of our industry by nurturing young talent to be the leaders of tomorrow. Young talent is often most exciting for us when we bring it onto the team – it’s talent that surprises us, scares us and inspires us. New perspectives that turn our way of thinking upside down and open up new perspectives for solving problems. New perspectives are something we can all benefit from at any time. Ultimately, it makes our work better.

Our residency program is specifically designed to help us find talent and bring them into the team at the lowest level. To balance the rawness of the skills, we also look for a high level of coachability and a strong appetite for learning. We always try to look for traits that indicate someone is a fast learner. Our project team structures and processes are designed to accelerate learning and growth for everyone while ensuring juniors are given the structure and support they need. Ultimately, teaching unbridled, unconventional thinking is much more difficult than teaching processes and designing crafts.

Banner image credit: Jacob Lund on Shutterstock

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