The UK Design sector - economic snapshot 


  • There are 177,000 UK design jobs in the creative economy. This encompasses product, graphic and fashion design, and includes design role in non-design agencies. The largest concentrations are in London, South East and North West of England.
  • The design sector was directly responsible for an estimated £3.23bn of Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2014 - a 16.6 per cent rise on the figure in 2013. Between 2008 and 2014, GVA in the design sector increased by an average of 9.7 per cent a year - the highest increase of all the UK creative sectors.
  • The Design Council has estimated that the total contribution of the design economy - which includes everyone employed in design roles - is £71.7bn as measured by GVA, productivity, turnover and employment. It calculates that workers with a design element were 41 per cent more product than the average.
  • According to the official government data, the value of exported design services from UK was estimated at £190m in 2012, a 45 per cent increase over the 2011 figure.  However, the Design Council's report on 'The Design Economy'  believes the contribution of design to the total export of goods and services from the UK is £34bn, equivalent to 7.3 per cent of total UK exports in 2013.
  • Design was the fastest growing employer among the creative industries in 2013. The number of jobs in the product, graphic and fashion design sector increased by 17.7 per cent from 151,000 to 177,000 between 2011 and 2013. This area has seen a particularly fast rise in the number of female employees.
  • Approximately 43% of UK design jobs in the creative industries require a degree level education or its equivalent. 

Sources: Creative Industries Economic Estimates, DCMS, January 2016;  Creative Industries Focus on Employment, DCMS, June 2014; The Design Economy


The value of the UK design industry


  • Design is highly valued by UK business, with an estimated £33.5bn spent annually on design.
  • Research conducted by the Design Council shows that despite the recession, the UK industry grew by 29 per cent between 2005 and 2010.
  • Design increases turnover: In the UK, for every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £20 in increased revenues
  • Design is linked to profit: For every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £4 increase in net operating profit
  • Design boosts exports: For every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect a return of over £5 in increased exports
  • UK firms cite design as increasingly important when combating the effects of recession. In 2008, 80 per cent of UK businesses believed that design would help them stay competitive. This figure rose to 97 per cent among rapidly growing companies
  • Around 35 per cent of UK exports come from industries that employ higher-than-average concentrations of designers
  • In the UK, businesses where design is integral to operations are twice as likely to have developed new products and services. Successful UK businesses and iconic brands such as Virgin, Jaguar Land Rover, O2, Dyson and Diageo all regard design as essential to innovation and market expansion.

Click here to see a Design Council video about how design can help growing businesses