Identifying key competences of industrial design and technology graduates in small and medium-sized enterprises

2006-03-09T18:15:11Z (GMT) by Steven W. Garner Adrian Duckworth
Industrial design graduates can be true ‘agents of change’ in manufacturing industry and nowhere is this potential more valuable than in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) where flexibility and speed of response are essential and which make up 94% of the UK economy. However, little research exists which examines the people - the initiators of change - in the light of emerging needs of SMEs in the UK. There is a huge potential amongst the SME sector to capitalise on industrial design graduates but for a number of reasons their skills and values are not fully exploited. With a growing higher education (HE) sector in design and related studies and a growing industrial base of SMEs there is an important need for research which would (i) help industrial design graduates secure employment in this significant element of the UK economy; (ii) assist HE with curricula development relevant to the needs of SMEs and (iii) help SMEs to harness the skills of industrial design graduates. This nine month project, which began in January 1999, seeks to address these points via a study of industrial design graduates employed by SMEs. 12 SMEs have been identified and each has employed, for a minimum of two years, a graduate from the Industrial Design and Technology BA/BSc programme offered by the Department of Design and Technology at Loughborough University. Particularly important to the research is the existence, manifestation and exploitation of 'competences'.