Singapore’s highest honour for designers and designs across all disciplines
One of Asia’s premier design festivals that champions design thought leadership
National Design Centre

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Singapore 188969

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3 reasons why you need design skills in the workforce of the future

5 min read

Design is more than just a form-giving aesthetic function. Having design skills mean you have the capability to transform and change businesses and organisations; humanise technology; and innovate systems and customer experiences. 

The workforce of the future needs to be design-empowered – it needs: (i) designers who can integrate knowledge and methods from different disciplines and operate in non-design contexts, and (ii) non-designers who are equipped with design-related skills to enable innovation in the workplace. Here are three reasons why design skills are needed in the workforce of the future:

1. Design can provide differentiation

In an increasingly homogenous world of globalised brands and identical experiences, design can provide differentiation. Within Singapore and across the world, design is increasingly human-centred, and about cross-disciplinary collaboration. The future of design will also involve designers playing a role in much larger multidisciplinary teams, working alongside people or technology from totally different backgrounds to shape better products and services together.

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A key role of DesignSingapore Council is in helping to groom and nurture the designers of the future. So what skills are going to be most highly prized? There’s a growing demand for designers who can work holistically, creating experiences that straddle the physical and digital worlds. It’s being able to work with technology but designing positive human experiences that are most valued. Here are examples of some emerging design jobs that play a critical role in the workforce of the future.

2. Design is essential for innovation

Local research echoes the growing global demand for designers across industries. Interestingly, for every design job in design firms here, there will be two design jobs in non-design firms by 2022. In fact, most of the demand for design talent will come from tech companies, financial services and business consultancies. Why?

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Because design skills and mindsets – such as the ability to empathise, reason abductively and prototype rapidly – are now essential to a world where firms must “innovate or die”. As a result, there is a demand for transdisciplinary or “T-shaped” talent, where designers possess deep technical skills, but are also adept at non-design skills such as systems thinking, business model innovation, content strategy, and entrepreneurship. In short, clients want designers who aren’t afraid to “talk” business or strategy, such as Richa Menke, Director of Strategic Design at BCG Digital Ventures.

3. More companies are using design as a strategic enabler – they will need people with design skills

In the business world, companies are using design as a strategic enabler. Design is being defined as the ability to shape desirable products, services and experiences for people. Companies are increasingly trying to build that ability, so that they can provide better products and services to the market for the customers and even to the staff, such as the case with Benjamin Barker, who used design thinking to drive record sales in 2019.

This ability has taken the form of either how a company can track the use of design better and to be thinking internally more nimbly around what the customers’ needs are, what kind of experiences they desire, and how do we share products and services with them. This really gives companies who do this well a competitive edge. There’s a whole realm of design that’s now associated with the ability to provide superior, better business performance to companies.

Find out more about embarking on a career in design here.


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Singapore’s highest honour for designers and designs across all disciplines
One of Asia’s premier design festivals that champions design thought leadership
National Design Centre