Research revealed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has revealed that the creative industries have experienced a recent boom, with employment growing at four times the rate of the UK workforce as a whole. However, whilst the UK design industry employs around 160,000, and over 50% more people than it did six years ago, it is still 90% white and nearly 60% male, according to the latest Government figures.
The research data was taken from the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Annual Population Survey. It shows that the UK’s design sector, in particular, has jumped by 60,000 workers, employing 160,000 people in 2016 compared to 100,000 in 2011. The statistics also show a rise in ethnic diversity in the design industry, which employed 5,000 more people from BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) backgrounds in 2016 compared to 2011, an increase of almost 50%. However, over 90% of the design workforce is still white, the figures show, and 58% of UK designers are male. The majority are aged between 25 and 39 and have a university degree or equivalent.
Of the employment figures, Matt Hancock, creative industries minister at DCMS, is understandably positive regarding the jobs boom but doesn't shirk the facts regarding ethnic diversity either. He said: “These positive job figures show Britain’s creative industries are performing better than ever. Those working in the creative industries are cultural ambassadors for Britain, and play a hugely important role in helping form and shape the way we are viewed both at home and abroad. While there is still more to do before diversity in the creative industries mirrors that of our society as a whole, I’m encouraged to see that this area is improving at more than twice the rate of the wider workplace.”
Hancock recently spoke at the Creative Industries Federation’s international conference on the need to increase diversity within the creative industries, saying that those working within the sector need to ensure they reach to all parts of the UK when seeking new employees and give everybody the chance to make the most of their lives.
On diversity in the creative workforce, a spokesperson for the Creative Industries Federation, which recently published the Creative Diversity report demonstrating that increasing diversity in the creative sector would also be economically beneficial, explained: “The headline statistics on diversity within the creative sector are worrying. We recognise that policy needs to change in order to allow everyone to fulfil their creative potential and according to the analysis presented, the most racially and ethnically diverse companies are actually more likely to have better than average returns.”
So there you have it. Right from the horse's mouth (so to speak). The question remains then; if more diverse creative workforces are statistically more successful than typical, mostly white and male creative workforces, why is the design industry still so monochrome? Feel free to open up the debate in the comment section below. But please keep it civil!
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer, musician and white male from Kidderminster in the UK.