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September 30, 2004
Design workforce holds key to economic competitiveness
Ontario's 40,000 designers have the potential to make a significant impact on
the province's economic competitiveness according to Design Matters, a study
conducted by the Design Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC). Based on the
findings, the design workforce can: build global brands, make companies more
competitive, grow the economy, transform our cities, anticipate future needs,
create sustainable communities and enhance quality of life.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada funded this cross-disciplinary
study on skills development and growth opportunities for Ontario designers that
focused on the following six disciplines: architecture, landscape architecture,
graphic, interior, industrial and fashion design. Research was conducted by
Meric S. Gertler and Tara Vinodrai from the Department of Geography and the
Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto, Corbett
Communications and DIAC.

The study revealed Toronto, with more than 25,000 designers, has the largest
design workforce in Canada and the third largest in North America, after New
York and Boston. Ontario designers have a higher level of formal education than
the general workforce and work in almost every sector of the economy. Over the
past 10 years the design workforce has grown at more than four times the rate
of the overall workforce.

Design Matters also found that the potential contribution the design workforce
can make to enhance competitiveness and improve quality of life in Ontario has
yet to be realized. To transform this expertly-trained, highly creative
workforce into a strategic design hub that will drive innovation and
commercialization outcomes for Toronto and Ontario, DIAC has recommended a
four-step action plan that calls for:
  • Launching a Design for Commercialization Program to enable industry to work more closely with designers to improve competitiveness.
  • Creating a Brand Strategy to articulate the unique strengths of the Ontario design workforce.
  • Establishing a Design Educators Network to facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration and design research initiatives.
  • Developing a Government Design Policy to maximize the use of design resources to improve economic and social advantage.

"Ontario's design workforce is a strategic asset. But we have to get industry
working much more closely with designers to help unleash their full potential.
That's why DIAC has developed its Action Plan," says Arlene Gould, Strategic
Director for Design Matters.

The Design Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC) was established in January 2001
by the City of Toronto Economic Development Division. DIAC members represent
design associations of Ontario, Toronto Economic Development, the Ontario
Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and the Design Exchange. Its primary
goal is to strengthen design-related strategic partnerships to address human
resource issues and economic development in Ontario.

For a copy of Design Matters, visit the Design Exchange or Association of
Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO) booths at IIDEX/NeoCon Canada
Exposition and Conference at the National Trade Centre, September 30 and
October 1 or

Media Contact
Arlene Gould
Study Strategic Director

Laurie Belzak
City of Toronto



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