Scotland boasts fastest rate of 'design economy' growth in UK

Scotland has the fastest rate of “design economy” growth in the UK, according to a new study.

The report from the Design Council examines sectors including architecture, product design, fashion, craft and graphics plus those working in design roles in other areas, such as the NHS and financial services.

It focuses on six key pillars - economic growth, regional prosperity, digital innovation, exports, skills for the future and diversity within the sector.

The research reveals that between 2017 and 2019 almost all parts of the UK benefited from growth in the design economy, with each region generating at least £1.87 billion in GVA (gross value added) annually. Scotland witnessed the fastest growth with its design economy expanding five times faster than the Scottish economy as a whole, achieving £6.79bn in GVA at a growth rate of 33 per cent over the period.

During 2020, one in 20 workers in the UK (some 1.97 million people) worked for a job within the design economy, according to the study.

Jim MacDonald, chief executive, Architecture & Design Scotland, said: “Design roles in the Scottish economy are growing fast, much faster than the economy as a whole in fact, but its impact could be even bigger.

“And as we face the challenges of climate emergency, pandemic recovery and rampant inflation, it’s never been more important to bring creative thinking to bear. The Design Council’s latest report on design and the economy is therefore timely, especially so as it focuses on people and places, the twin pillars of our work and which are reflected in everything we do.

“To highlight just one example, we are working with communities across Scotland to develop local responses to the climate emergency. This perfectly captures the potential of bringing people together and using design to generate creative, but deliverable solutions to their challenges. If it can work for us, it can work for everyone.”

Jim MacDonald, chief executive, Architecture & Design Scotland: 'Design roles in the Scottish economy are growing fast, much faster than the economy as a whole in fact, but its impact could be even bigger.'

Across the UK, digital design jobs have risen by 138 per cent “in recent years”, the Design Council noted.

The report also found that 77 per cent of all designers work in non-design sectors such as finance, retail and construction.

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