Design skills framework launched to drive innovation in Singapore

Scheme lists training programmes, career paths; aim is to help workers, firms upgrade

Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Mr Chan Chun Sing spoke at the Public Service Transformation Awards reception on Friday (July 19).
Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Mr Chan Chun Sing spoke at the Public Service Transformation Awards reception on Friday (July 19).ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

A national framework for the design industry was launched yesterday by Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, as part of Singapore's push to become an innovation-driven economy.

The Skills Framework For Design sets out a clear list of skills, career pathways and training programmes for 25 roles, which are categorised under four tracks: business, design, innovation and technology.

It aims to help workers upgrade their skills and to help organisations become more design-led.

DesignSingapore Council (DSG) - which developed the framework with SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore - said designers can use it to deepen and broaden their skill sets, while non-designers can use it to equip themselves with design-related skills to lead innovation in the workplace.

Some of the emerging skills listed include business model innovation, content development and strategy, and design sustainability and ethics management.

Mr Chan said designers in Singapore can help to create solutions for major challenges such as reducing the carbon footprint, organising public housing to promote social inclusion, and retraining an entire workforce without their having to return to school.

"Designers in Singapore have a higher purpose to solve the grand challenges of our country which, if successful, can in turn be scaled to the rest of the world," he told some 300 people at a design industry conference, Design Conversations 2019, at Marina One.

  • 32%

    The share of designers who were in senior management at non-design companies in 2016, up from 12 per cent in 2014, according to DesignSingapore Council.

  • 31st

    This is the 31st skills framework to be launched. It comes under the industry transformation map, or ITM, for professional services.


  • The Skills Framework For Design covers 25 roles across four tracks. Here are some examples of jobs under each of the tracks.


    • Design facilitator

    • Design project manager


    • Visualiser/storyteller

    • Chief experience officer


    • Design researcher

    • Lead service designer


    • Creative technologist

DSG executive director Mark Wee said that the aim of the new framework is to nurture a design thinking mindset for all, as a critical skill for the future workforce.

"To thrive in this uncertain economy, we need to be constantly curious, to quickly learn, to be flexible and, frankly, we all need design skills," he said.

Mr Wee said the new framework shows people how to land their desired design job, and also helps organisations identify the right talent and understand how to nurture their staff.

The demand for design skills is growing. DSG said that between 2017 and 2022, the number of design professionals here is expected to grow by more than 12,000.

They may work in fields such as architecture, fashion design, advertising and user experience design.

Many of the jobs will be in non-design companies. By 2022, for every design job in design services firms, there will be 1.8 design jobs in other types of firms such as technology, financial services and business consulting, said DSG.

DSG has found that designers make up a growing share of senior management at non-design companies.

The share was 32 per cent in 2016, up from 12 per cent in 2014.

For each of the 25 roles in the framework, critical work functions, key tasks, and both technical and generic skills and competencies are listed.

For example, visualisers or storytellers visualise design ideas and research new methods of communicating data-driven insights, among other things. The skills they need include empathetic design, conceptual thinking, communication and problem solving.

They earn between $2,250 and $4,875 from the 25th to 75th percentiles on the range of salaries for the role.

Another role covered is design research. Design researchers study key industry trends and conduct ethnographic research to support the development of user journeys and prototypes, for instance. They earn between $3,750 and $7,500 from the 25th to 75th percentiles.

Among the skills they need are market research, user and usability testing, sense making and teamwork.

The new framework comes under the industry transformation map (ITM) for professional services.

It is the 31st skills framework to be launched under the ITMs, which cover strategies to raise productivity and drive innovation in major industries here.

The framework was put together after consultation with some 645 employers, design associations and training providers. It complements recommendations on strengthening higher education in design, which were made by the Design Education Review Committee earlier this month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2019, with the headline 'Design skills framework launched to drive innovation in Singapore'. Subscribe