Community Support or Work on the Cheap?
Reading through my Facebook timeline as usual while I wait for the kettle to boil I see an article from the local independent press about a big local employer's new expansion. they are building a new multi-million pound operation and visitors centre in the town, securing hundreds of jobs and employing many more. Great for a town that has recently seen the loss of a number of key employers.
What prompted this post is the article is about how they are asking the Graphic Design students at the local college to present their branding ideas for this new development. They're 'plans are to engage with education establishments as part of a drive to scout and recruit local talent'
Now don't get me wrong, it's great that they are looking for talent locally and not going out to the big faceless agencies in London but why not advertise to the local business community that they are looking for ideas from local designers as well? Why only open the opportunity to students?
Could the reason be that this company, and others, despite large profits and healthy bank balances want to save a few £s and get students to do it for free, with the promise of a fantastic brand to put in their portfolio and maybe apprenticeship or office junior role at the end of it? Add in a bit of good publicity around 'supporting local young people' and the Board are happy.
If a company is genuinely interested in getting 'fresh ideas' and a new perspective on their brand, why not open the floor to local designers as well?
I think what has really upset me about the article is it is another example of small businesses and sole traders being over-looked. Too small to be taken seriously by big businesses, it's almost impossible to secure reliable work over any period of time. Deemed too expensive by other small businesses who can get a similar service remotely from the Far East for less than you need to charge to be able to put petrol in your car this month.
I live in a town with a large independent business community and I regularly come across people who are genuinely supportive, encouraging and have some wonderful clients. However to do more than just 'get by' the barriers are up on all sides. Bigger businesses need to show up in the community more, attend networking meetings, go to local business expo's. Not because they need to sell their product or service to us, but because they want to see who is out there and how we can help them. We after all are their customers, their neighbours and support goes both ways.