Design students urged to help small businesses in packaging, branding

THE Department of Trade and Industry-Cebu (DTI-Cebu) is calling on student designers to link with the creative sector to boost their design skills and extend their expertise to the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Speaking before the creative crowd of Cebu, DTI-Cebu Ma. Elena Arbon urged export companies to absorb student designers and train them to improve their craft. She said skills enhancement of students will benefit Cebu as it aims to step up its design advantage.

She noted that DTI-Cebu has started to hire designer interns from the University of the Philippines-Cebu and sought their help in the agency’s One Town, One Product (Otop) program in the province.

These students help MSMEs under the Otop program improve their packaging, branding and visual merchandising.

“We need to mentor these young designers, and expose them to the real work,” said Arbon.

Butch Carungay, chairman of European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP) Cebu Business Council, said the creative industry has long been mentoring design students while some of the firms accept them for on-the-job (OJT) trainings.

With the coming together of various industries to strengthen Cebu’s design ecosystem through the Cebu Design Week this June, Carungay said students mastering in this profession are highly considered and encouraged to actively participate.

Carungay pointed out that one of the areas that contributed to the lackluster performance of some industries in the last 16 years is in the design aspect.

He said Filipino designers are not as tech-savvy and many have shifted to other industries.

Other countries, on the other hand, have vastly improved, as second generation owners run factories or put more emphasis on design.

To remain relevant in a hyper-competitive and changing global landscape, Carungay said Cebuano entrepreneurs need to level-up their operations and start collaborating.

“Cross collaborations accelerate product development,” he said during the sector’s recent launching of Cebu Design Week, a launchpad to reassert Cebu’s design reputation and reclaim its creative city status.

He reinforced Arbon’s stance to develop a pool of designers in Cebu who are willing to extend their expertise to new and existing businesses. (KOC)