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As part of The Drum’s commitment to the next generation of young talent that will help design our future, The Drum Design Awards is launching a special category to herald the top 25 under 25 in design.

The special category has been created to encourage and reward young talent. People can nominate themselves or someone else and the final 25 will be shortlisted by the Design awards judges.

The Drum spoke to four industry experts, who are on the judging panel of The Drum Design Awards, on how they are supporting the under 25s.

Design Bridge, for instance, runs several initiatives to encourage and campion young talent --including an annual student design competition, “The Dog’s Bollocks Student Awards”, where the winners are invited to the studio for an interview, with the chance of a placement to go and present;  a Bursary Scheme in the UK for final year students, which has led to a few designers gaining employment.

Taxi Studio, executive creative director, Glenn Tutssel says that the way that agencies can bring new blood into the industry is by being proactive in engaging with art schools.

“I make it my business to visit degree shows,” he says. “Give talks and actively refer young designers who are exceptional to other agencies.”

Pearlfisher fosters relationships with universities and colleges nationwide, continually increasing its reach by visiting the institutions to lecture or critique and inviting them to the agency for group visits and portfolio evenings. Futures director, Sophie Maxwell says: “We believe in offering educational and cultural opportunities over and above the day-to-day role – both internally and externally. Our internal culture is one that we like to be dynamic, promoting continual learning and development of skills, and also host a once a month ‘First Thursday’ night to share work, host visiting design influencers, or discussing a particular industry issue or visiting a creative exhibition or workshop.

Williams Murray Hamm creative partner, Garrick Hamm, recalls how almost three decades ago, he was given a break when someone recognised his potential at school and gave him his first interview and job. WMH run an internship programme throughout the year, with students coming for a two week/month period, and who are sometimes invited back to stay on for a further month. In the past, around 86% of the creative people Hamm employs, have been through the programme.

But as with any industry, recruitment is followed by various challenges. Templeman explains that as there is so much talent out there, the main challenge is seeking out the people who are the best fit. She adds, “When you go to the D&AD New Blood exhibition, for example, there is so much to see and so many people there that it can be a little bit overwhelming. You have to make sure that you have plenty of time to see as much as you can and meet as many people as you can so that you can find the true gems.”

Both Tutssel and Hamm say that there is a lot of technical ability, but it is the big ideas that adds value and makes people employable. “I probably only see maybe one or two graduates a year that I think I might hire and we see around 20 students,” says Hamm. “Whilst the intake of universities has gone up, and there are more people studying graphic design than when I was at college, that doesn't mean to say that there are more gifted designers. It's exactly the same. It's more difficult to find because there's more of them out there.”

Designers fuse their knowledge of design with cognitive abilities, they are solving the issues that clients have creatively, which can involve various skills like drawing, coding or modelling. The latest software skills are becoming a necessity and young designers are making it their business to be as proficient as possible, says Maxwell. “However, tech will never be able to replace human creativity, conceptual thought, imagination and intuition,” she explains. “We are now seeing a lot of graduate portfolios showing truly diverse brand world thinking – from interiors and websites to advertising campaigns – which we really encourage as its exactly the way brands should be being built today.”

Film and animation also seems to be a hot topic with many graduates, as well as having a good grasp on branding. Templeman says “This is reflective of the world we live in now with social media and the shift in how brands are expressing themselves – not just through their logo, pack and comms, but also through digital content in a more 360 way.”

Work/life balance is a challenge that many young designers are facing right now expresses Hamm. “When youngsters come in, it needs to be more about the work and a lot of them, because they paid for their university, think there is some sort of guarantee that you've paid for it so your qualified.” He explains. “To concur and master being a designer, it takes an awful lot of hours. There's a slight re-education that needs to be done. To be fair, I had the same, I didn't realise how many hours I had to put in as well.”

Templeman’s advice to young designers who are taking the next step in their career is to really think about how they can stand out. They need to demonstrate a real passion for their work and how their skills can be put to good use on the brands and projects a design agency works on.

The Drum Design Awards 25 under 25 list is an opportunity for young designers to stand out from the competition and show of their skills to a global platform. You can nominate yourself or someone else who is 25 or under and in the design industry.  The deadline for entries is Wednesday March 14. 

Sponsors of these awards are Tomorrow London and NB Studio