Over the course of 2010 there were many ups and downs, stops and starts – some fantastic new opportunities and unfortunately some still struggling through the economic difficulties. Whilst we began to see some signs of recovery throughout the Creative industry, it was still very hard to say how, why and when things were going to return to normal. So, as we move into 2011, are things any clearer? Do we get a sense that this will be a year of growth and prosperity or will we continue at the slow but steady pace of the past 12 months? The answer is not black or white, and like all predictions, only time will tell. However, there are a few little trends that emerged towards the end of last year, a few telling pointers that give us some indication of what to expect this year. And the good news is…it’s good news!
Companies are hiring graduates again – After a tough 18 months for graduates struggling to get the chance at an entry level position, October 2010 open evening at Billy Blue College of Design, saw the highest number of industry attendees in the last 2 years. Not only that, but soon after that evening some of the best and brightest students we’re flooded with multiple job opportunities from agencies eager to reinvest in their teams by injecting the wide eyed enthusiasm that graduates bring, and ready to nurture and mentor our next generation of designers to success.
UI/UX in huge demand – This is fast become the most requested skill set for both permanent and freelance hires. Of course, the main requirement for a successful adaptation of any new technology is acceptance by the end-users. In a market where the competition is tougher than ever, engaging your consumers in a brand experience is a valuable weapon in the battle for customer loyalty and acceptance. In addition, the switch from personal desktop computers to virtual on-demand technology is changing the core of IT infrastructure, providing a whole new world, in which to create a ‘whole new world’.
Companies are hiring permanently again – A year of uncertainty and in some cases redundancies, made some firms very nervous about hiring permanently. What a big commitment to make, when there was really no guarantee of what’s around the corner! Many firms made great use of freelance and contract talent, to offer the flexibility they needed to complete projects on time/budget but without the permanent headcount cost. However, September and October saw a jump in permanent hiring, with many clients hiring multiple roles, in a bid to restore the core fabric of their teams, ready to take on the new year.
Big cheer for the little man – Many new smaller firms created during the turbulence of late 2008, following redundancies and firm closures, have really begun to claim their spot on the map and come into their own. They’ve done very well in the last twelve months, helped in many cases by the fact that, when budgets are tight it’s not only the potential savings, but the one-to-one personal service and flexibility that sometimes makes it more attractive to deal with smaller firms. Of course that’s not to say that larger firms don’t offer these things, but the last half of 2010 certainly saw a boost in business for many SME’s and that trend looks set to continue this year.
It’s still a talent tight market – It would be reasonable to expect after a period of cut backs and restructures for many firms that there would be a large number of talent available at the moment, freelancing or looking to re-enter a permanent position. The reality couldn’t be further from that. The truth is that during the last 12-24 months, many creative talent unable to find work for months on end, have either retrained and left the industry, or in the case of overseas talent, returned home. Others have started their own businesses and are operating successfully as independent contractors or in small consortium’s, doing very well for themselves, as discussed in my previous point. This leaves a very small pool of quality talent active and available and as firms begin to hire permanently again, these candidates will be snapped up quickly. Having said that, recent research has shown up to 60% of talent are passively looking at new opportunities and would leave their current employment, if the right position came up. This suggests there may still be a lot of movement in the early part of the year, and that more than ever firms will need to consider their salary structures / attraction and retention strategies to ensure they capture the best talent.
Digital Tablet Design – what more can I say except for, ‘It’s blowing up!’
Phone Apps – as the next gen of iPhone or Blackberry seems to flow on consecutively from the last at a faster and faster pace, the possibilities are limitless – Have an idea? Want a certain app? – Ask and it shall be given! With customers leading the demand here, it’s a constant stream of fresh design opportunities on a daily basis.
CS5 upgrades – The launch of CS5 in April 2010 was met with a lot of interest but the uptake, as with many things in ’10 was slow and steady. Already this year a large number of our talent and clients have told us that Santa left a Creative Suite upgrade in their stocking and they’ve been busying themselves learning all the new tricks, ready for the new year.
Corporates outsourcing again – when times are tight, you batten down the hatches. Pull everything indoors and wait for the storm to pass, but then the first few rays of sunshine peak through the clouds and you can begin to get a sense of freedom and opportunity again. Enough to the point where you want to open the door and interact with the outside world again? Well, yes! It would seem so. Once again, the last quarter of 2010 saw a increase in many corporate clients outsourcing their creative again, as well expanding their teams in-house also. It would appear the purse strings have loosened enough over the last twelve months to allow a steady flow back to the Creative and Marketing departments again.
So, it is with cautious optimism that we can all look forward to 2011, keeping an eye on these trends and with hope that firms continue to grow in confidence, those tentative steps we’ve taken last year will become strides and, dare I say it leaps in 2011!