State of Design – Results 5 & 6: Your Workforce + The Big Picture


In the two final chapters of our State of Design Survey, we ask for a point of view from designers with employee responsibility – how they see the state of design and the role they play in it – before we, in the final part, turn towards the questions and challenges much bigger than the individual. 

When asking the team leaders about the upsides and downsides of the position as a middle manager in the design industry, it told the tale of a gratifying, yet at the same time very taxing and challenging job. On the plus side, words like “rewarding, “inspiring others”, “helping”, and doing “strategic work” was mentioned repeatedly. On the downside were all the admin work, the lack of time, the difficulty of managing people, and the absence of deep design work. 

On average, the team leaders/owners/Creative Directors etc., are leading 21 people. The number is, however, hiding a considerable difference – spanning from just a few to several hundred.

We also asked the designers with employee responsibility whether there are enough qualified designers on the market, expecting a resounding “no!” since the discrepancy between a somewhat high level of unemployed combined with a high demand for designers has been the main storyline from several design agencies as well as organizations like the Danish Chambers of Commerce. However, looking at the numbers, they don’t really support such a tale.  

Are there enough qualified designers?

When we asked about what skills the employers were looking for in employees, Design Thinking & Facilitation, Innovation and UX ranked highest among a list of predominantly broad and soft skills. We see little difference in what agencies and self-employed look for – only a slight increase in qualities like understanding “business planning” and “project management” from design agencies. In contrast, self-employed leaned a bit towards the soft categories like “curiosity” and “empathy”.

What skills are you looking for in a designer?

Around 2/3 said they offer further training for their employees. But when we – in Chapter 3 – asked the designers where they learned new things, the numbers seemed somewhat lower, indicating that further training might not be for all of the workforce:

Do you offer further training for your employees?

Among team leaders/owners/Creative Directors, almost a third of their workforce is international. This number is set to increase even further and calls for rethinking how we think about Danish design and the sector as a whole. 

How many internationals are you employing?

Many internationals come from our neighbouring countries, but the overall picture is clear: Danish design is genuinely shaped by people coming from all parts of the world. 

Over 60 % find free pitching to be a problem to some degree – but the most interesting part of the question might be the huge 25% who don’t want to answer. Is it dangerous to talk about the rules of pitching in Denmark?

Is free pitching a problem?

Also, when it comes to unpaid internships, there is consensus that this poses a problem in the industry – this time with fewer respondents refusing to answer the question.

Are unpaid internships a problem?

As the final graph in our State of Design Survey, we asked about the most important agendas for designers. We think the numbers and topics speak for themselves. 

What is the most important agenda?