RMIT, industrial partner to bridge the design skills gap

Design has played a vital role in the emergence of many of Australia’s leading digital organizations. But with total demand for designers estimated at more than 13% per year, new solutions are needed to ensure a steady supply of skilled workers with the specialist skills needed to meet the challenges of modern design.

In January, RMIT Online teamed up with a group of business partners, including Canva, REA Group and Accenture-owned digital agency Fjord, to increase both the total number and industry readiness of new design graduates. through the creation of three new human-centred centres. design course.

RMIT Online Product Manager Li Tan said CMO one of the main objectives of the partnership is to ensure that graduates have the necessary skills to be ready to work. Thus, the new courses combine training in technical skills and knowledge of the principles of design thinking with the ability to identify and solve business problems.

REA Group Executive Chief Executive Jonathan Swift said it was important that employers come together to address issues relating to their long-term performance.

“We see ourselves as one of Australia’s leading digital employers, and as such we’re really keen to shape this next generation workforce,” Swift said. “Not only does this benefit us as a company, by bringing great talent and preparing them for the market, it also allows us to repay and ensure that we are still contributing to the industry as a whole.

“We want to attract the best people we can, but we also want to raise the waterline for the entire industry and increase the capabilities of all designers by expanding the talent pool and creating more opportunities for everybody.”

Tan said the aim of the new courses is to satisfy the emerging demand for specialist designers in a range of categories relevant to digital industries, such as product design.

“Over the last three years we’ve seen a 42% compound annual growth for digital product designers in Australia and then a 24% compound annual growth in the average salary, which really reflects the growing demand for design of digital products,” Tan said. “This emerging role of the product designer encompasses a need to link design strongly to business strategy, as industry tends to be one step ahead of education.

“And there are currently around 500 jobs on SEEK for digital product designers.”

Further and continuous examination of the market revealed other specific areas of skills gaps, such as user experience (UX) design.

“This gap continues to grow based on workforce needs,” Tan said. “Looking across the education landscape, there really isn’t much that offers the depth and breadth needed to help people become experience designers.”

The move was good news for many in the industry, including Stuart Jaffray, managing director of Melbourne-based B2B marketing agency Green Hat. A former chief executive of Starcom and chief marketing officer of BMW Group Australia, Jaffray said the idea of ​​bringing more specialized design skills to market in areas such as digital product design, user experience and user interface (UI) design is welcome.

“Brands have understood that UI and UX ultimately deliver engagement,” he said. “And then during the pandemic, companies have accelerated their digital transformation and their adoption of e-commerce, and there is a significant need for UI and UX skills.

“People’s expectations are higher and if the brand doesn’t meet that on the first request, they’re unlikely to return.”

For Jaffray, the need for specialist designers has been exacerbated by a lack of clear career paths in these roles. Often they are occupied by graphic design professionals who have changed careers without formal training.

“Designers are concerned with aesthetics, but aesthetics are only one part of UI/UX, and ultimately your UI/UX specialist should be much more concerned with learning behavior human in order to improve engagement,” Jaffray said. “You need someone who can actually do and understand both of those things.

“We need more UI/UX capable designers in this country, so when I sat down with the RMIT team to talk about it, I said it was fantastic and we needed it more.”

Swift said the partnership builds on an existing long-term relationship with RMIT and has seen the REA Group bring its own staff to the training program.

“We bring our design leaders into the course to help shape how people think about design and how young designers think about their career opportunities and the pathways ahead of them as well,” he said.

The RMIT partnership is also an opportunity to help REA Group achieve its stated mission to reinvent the way the world experiences property.

“That’s where design has a massive influence, to take this human-centered approach and iterate and imagine problems,” Swift added.

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