Digital based media design: the innovative contribution of design graduates from vocational and higher education sectors

  • Kalika Navin Doloswala
  • Darrall Thompson
  • Phillip Toner


Design is increasingly being recognised as a key source of competitive advantage in the innovation economy of many countries. The key objective of this research was to understand the contribution by design graduates to creative industries innovative activities. Primary research was conducted to understand barriers and limitations of graduate contributions to such activities. The attributes and skills of graduates from the university and Vocational Education and Training sectors were the subject of the study. Two focus groups, one with the education sectors and the other with representatives from design firms, government institutions and design associations were held. Though each group of graduates was praised for having certain skill sets graduates from both sectors were found to be lacking in three key areas: problem solving, communication skills and commercial knowledge. A range of suggestions for systemic improvement were proposed as a result of the study.


Innovation Creative industries Pedagogy University Vocational education Training Design 



This paper was based on a research project funded by the NSW Board of Vocational Education and Training. The views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSW Government.


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2001). Australian standard classification of education (ASCED) Cat No. 1272.Google Scholar
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2005). Innovation in Australian business 2003, Cat. No. 8158.0.Google Scholar
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2006). Census of population and housing, user specified tables.Google Scholar
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2009). 4172.0-Arts and culture in Australia: A statistical overview.
  5. Bley, T. S. (2004). A new graduate programme in design. International Design Network and Institute, Dulles, VA. Available at
  6. Brown, T. (2008). Design thinking. Boston: Harvard Business Review.Google Scholar
  7. Chiesa, V., Manzini, R., & Pizzurno, E. (2004). The externalization of R&D activities and the growing market of product development services. R&D Management, 34(1), 65–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Conley, C. (2007). Educating designers for broad roles in organizations. Design Management Review, 18(3), 10–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Design Council UK. (2004). Impact of design on stock market performance design council. Accessed 25 March 2010.
  10. DIA. (2009). Design institute of Australia—The design industry. Accessed 26 August 2009.
  11. Guthrie, H. (2009). Competence and competency based training: What the literature says. Adelaide: National Centre for Vocational Education Research.Google Scholar
  12. HM Treasury. (2005). Cox review of creativity in business: Building on the UK’s strengths. London: HM Treasury.Google Scholar
  13. Howells, J., & Tether, B. (2004). Innovation in services: Issues at stake and trendsFinal report. UK: ESRC, Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester.Google Scholar
  14. Industrial Design Society of America. (2003, 2005). Accessed 25 March 2010.
  15. MacPherson, A. (1997). The role of producer service outsourcing in the innovation performance of New York state manufacturing firms. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 87(1), 52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Markkula, M., & Sinko, M. (2009). Knowledge economies and innovation society evolve around learning. Elearning papers. Helsinki University of Technology TKK.Google Scholar
  17. Martin, R. (2007). Design and business: Why can’t we be friends. Journal of Business Strategy, 28(4).Google Scholar
  18. National Centre for Vocational Education and training. (2000). Australian vocational education and training. An overview. ‘Competency-based training’. Accessed 25 March 2010.
  19. OECD. (2005). Oslo manual: Guidelines for collecting and interpreting innovation data, 3rd edn. The measurement of scientific and technological activities, OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
  20. Raffles College of Design and Commerce. (2011). Accreditation and registration. Accessed 13 September 2011.
  21. Robertson, D. (2005a). Home alone—The home office. Design Institute of Australia-Articles. Accessed 25 March 2010.
  22. Robertson, D. (2005b). Industrial design industry overview. Design Institute of Australia-The Design Industry Reports. Accessed 25 March 2010.
  23. Sangiorgi, D., & Meroni, A. (2011). Design for services. Farnham, Surrey: GBR Ashgate Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  24. Sherman, E. (2002). Inside the apple iPod design triumph. Electronics Design Chain Magazine. Accessed 9 December 2009.
  25. Think Education Group. (2011). Billy blue college of design. Accessed 8 November 2011.
  26. Vanchan, V., & MacPherson, A. (2008). The recent growth performance of US firms in the industrial design sector: An exploratory study. Industry & Innovation, 15(1), 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Wong, V. (2009a). How to nurture future leaders Businessweek: Innovation, September 30, Accessed 25 March 2010.
  28. Wong, V. (2009b). World’s best design schools: Carnegie Mellon University Accessed 25 March 2010.
  29. Wong, V. (2009c). World’s best design schools: Cranfield University/University of the Arts London Business Accessed 25 March 2010.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kalika Navin Doloswala
    • 1
  • Darrall Thompson
    • 2
  • Phillip Toner
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Communication ArtsUniversity of Western SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Design, Design, Architecture and BuildingUniversity of TechnologySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Industry and Innovation Studies (CINIS)University of Western SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations