Graphic Designer Shortage in the UK: Challenges and Solutions

Why UK businesses face challenges hiring skilled designers

In recent years, the shortage of skilled graphic designers in the UK has become a major concern for businesses across a wide range of sectors. With the increasing demand for design services and the limited supply of talent, many companies have struggled to find the graphic designers they need to support their growth and success.

Is there a shortage of graphic designers in the UK?

There are several challenges that UK businesses face when it comes to hiring skilled graphic designers. Some of the most significant challenges include:

  1. Competition: The demand for skilled graphic designers is high, and many businesses are vying for top talent. This can lead to fierce competition for the best candidates, and can make it difficult for businesses to attract and retain the designers they need.
  2. High costs: The cost of hiring skilled graphic designers can be prohibitive for many businesses, especially smaller companies or those with limited budgets. In addition to salary and benefits, businesses also need to consider the costs of training and onboarding new hires.
  3. Limited pool of talent: The supply of skilled graphic designers in the UK has not kept pace with the demand, which has led to a significant skills gap in the design industry. This has made it difficult for businesses to find the talent they need, and has led to increased competition for the available pool of designers.
  4. Retention issues: Once businesses do manage to hire skilled graphic designers, they may face challenges in retaining those employees. Many designers are in high demand and may be tempted to leave for better opportunities elsewhere. This can lead to a high rate of turnover, which can be costly and disruptive for businesses.
  5. Limited diversity: The design industry has a lack of diversity, with only 11% of designers in the UK being from black, Asian, or minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, compared to 14% of the UK population. This lack of diversity limits the range of perspectives and ideas and may negatively impact the design sector’s competitiveness and growth.

One solution that has gained popularity among UK businesses is outsourcing, or the practice of hiring external contractors or agencies to provide design services. By outsourcing their design needs, companies can access a global pool of talent and benefit from the expertise of professionals who specialize in various design disciplines and eliminate the shortage of graphic designers.

Read More: Five projects you should outsource to a creative agency as a growing business


There are many benefits to outsourcing design work, including:

  1. Cost savings: Outsourcing can be a cost-effective way to access design services, especially for smaller businesses or those with limited budgets. By working with external contractors or agencies, companies can avoid the costs associated with hiring and training in-house designers.
  2. Access to a wider range of talent: Outsourcing allows companies to tap into a global pool of talent, rather than being limited to the local job market. This can help businesses to find the best fit for their specific design needs.
  3. Increased flexibility: Outsourcing allows companies to scale their design resources up or down as needed, which can be especially useful for businesses that experience seasonal fluctuations in demand.
  4. Improved quality: By outsourcing to professionals with specialized expertise and experience, companies can often achieve higher quality design work than they could with in-house resources.

Read More: How outsourcing a design team makes more sense than hiring in-house


According to a report by the Design Council, there are currently around 50,000 design students in the UK, but only a fraction of these will go on to work in the design industry. This has led to a significant skills gap in the design industry and shortage of graphic designers, with many businesses struggling to find the talent they need.

One example of a UK business that has successfully outsourced design work is ASOS, an online fashion retailer. To meet the increasing demand for its design services, ASOS has built a global network of design contractors and agencies, which allows the company to access a wide range of design talent and scale its design resources up or down as needed.

Overall, outsourcing can be a valuable tool for UK businesses looking to fill the gap of hiring skilled graphic designers. By leveraging the expertise and experience of external contractors and agencies, companies can access high-quality design work that helps them to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

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