The UK’s creative industries lack social and racial diversity, according to statistics. In fact, the Social Mobility Commission launched a toolkit to encourage socioeconomic diversity in the sector last year.
A lack of diversity in the creative industries
The intervention followed statistics that only 27% of the creative industries workforce come from a working-class background, compared with 39% of the wider UK workforce.
Diverse socio-economic representation drops even lower for the ‘advertising & marketing’ and ‘music and performing arts sub-sectors, with those from working-class backgrounds accounting for just 23%.
Diverse ethnic representation in the industry doesn’t fare any better, with only 10.9% of creative jobs filled by BAME people, according to the Creative Industries Federation’s 2015 survey.
With these barriers for minority groups clear, could value-driven apprenticeships be the answer to diversifying the creative industry and creating a broader upskilled talent pool for employers to tap into?
Here’s a snapshot of three apprenticeship programmes that are trying to diversify the sector’s talent pool:
1. Ogilvy – The Pipe
Since The Pipe was launched in 2016, advertising giant Ogilvy has taken on 45 apprentices, across its Consulting, Strategy, Data, Finance, Production and People areas, with over half from ethnic minority backgrounds. In 2018, it hired 90% of apprentices for permanent jobs.
Candidates apply via an online application process. Using the system Applied, applications are reviewed blind and marked by a panel of Ogilvy colleagues. If successful, candidates are invited to an interview or assessment day consisting of an interview, presentation and group work.
Training is then delivered in partnership with government accredited training providers – Arch Apprentices, Bauer Academy, BPP and Multiverse. All training is currently delivered remotely allowing all apprentices access to tutors, workshops and 1:1 coaching.
Ogilvy is hiring for Account Management positions to join in the second half of this year, and applicants can apply now. Hopefully, a new Strategy/Consulting cohort will be able to start later in the year.
Apprentices in the creative industries share their experience:
Jesal Shah, Strategy/Consulting Piper: “I’m currently working within the sustainability division within growth & innovation, having previously spent time within the social data team and Wyeth/Nestle account. During my time, I’ve been a part of a team creating an entirely new brand campaign and assisting with customer experience workshops for clients.
“I’ve also gained new skills such as using an array of social listening platforms to garner meaningful insights for brands and consumers. Alongside work, I am completing a qualification in data analytics. Having come from a background in healthcare, I wanted to try something completely different, and I haven’t looked back since.”
Yeside Williams, Creative Piper: “I am currently a junior advertising creative who leans more on the art direction side of the role. Usually, my role consists of a combination of researching insights and applying my personal experience and background to fuel my creative ideation process to produce innovative concepts and campaigns for Ogilvy clients. I’ve also been able to expand my role to include production, stills and video shooting for TK Maxx and HOKA.
“I applied for The Pipe as I wanted to challenge myself and refine the skills that surround photography, i.e. pre-production, ideation, building relationships etc, which regularly occur in this role, meaning I get to practise until I perfect them. My advice for anyone looking to complete an apprenticeship is to be curious. You aren’t expected to know everything so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Also, use this time to explore the myriad of departments and roles that interest you, eventually, you’ll find the one best suited to your passions and interests.”
Anisa Gani, Account Management Piper: “I’m 19 and I’m an account management and project management apprentice, and I’ve been at Ogilvy for a year and a half. My job is a dual role, meaning I do some AM and PMO work, which primarily consists of creating timing plans, keeping track of ongoing projects, and supporting meetings either internally or with clients.
“At Ogilvy, I’ve most enjoyed working in the advertising department and working on campaigns that will reach the UK or international market. I also get involved in extra events and societies at work like helping to organise events and socials.
“I initially applied for an apprenticeship because I knew I wanted to work within the creative sector, and I knew I didn’t necessarily need to go to university for this. So, I applied for a bunch of roles and landed this one. I entered this role, with not much knowledge about how the advertising industry worked. But through the apprenticeship, I’ve been able to learn the theory and the practicality of the industry. One of my biggest achievements at work was being nominated for apprentice of the year. I was really proud of this because it really reflected my growth and development.”
2. The Brooklyn Brothers – Night School
Launched in 2019 by advertising agency, The Brooklyn Brothers, Night School is a free training programme for 18-25-year-olds, originally designed to address the lack of ethnic diversity in London’s creative industries.
In 2019, after graduating, the class of 14 students worked with personal mentors to plan the next steps of their creative journey and over 80% secured careers in areas from advertising to production and social inclusion. This year, they are hoping to conduct the programme in person, with applicants asked to sign up via a microsite.
Will Sansom, Head of Strategy, will be working with Business Director, Georgia Dixon, to assemble a crack team within the agency responsible for designing and running the programme. They will also be inviting graduates from years one and two to return and play an active role in the running of sessions and mentorship of students. The idea of Night School is very much to pay it forward and continue growing a collective community.
Samson commented: “From a student-centric point of view, this is a generation facing greater economic and employment hardship than any in recent memory. If you then add the challenge that these young creatives face trying to crack an industry that struggles with diversity, it’s never been more important that opportunity is opened wherever possible. From an industry point of view, it’s simple – this diverse young talent will make us better and more effective. Why? Because by more accurately reflecting the actual social makeup of the UK, we can produce work that is more relevant, resonant and impactful for clients. That’s just good business.”
What the creative industries apprentices think:
Juliana Onyenani: “The Night School experience helped me to understand the high value of collaboration in creating. From the very beginning, I was encouraged to reach out to people that I already knew in my own network. My manifesto ‘ripthereceipt’ is a social commentary about forgiveness and an account of my own struggles to forgive. I had the privilege of working with Jacqueline Davies, a talented designer who helped to bring my vision to life. I also received the mentorship of Tito & George which was very encouraging!
“Night School gave me the space to find my ground as a creative. I am more confident about where my strengths and weaknesses lie, and I know that this will bode well as I make my way through this industry of ideas. I’ve been exposed to so much more opportunity, even as far as being offered a role at The Brooklyn Brothers.
“The Night School cohort is full of amazing photographers, designers, creatives, artists, architects, poets and storytellers, all of whom I’ve been able to connect with and learn from. I’m so glad that I could be a part of the experience and I can’t wait to see how the initiative continues to grow in cultivating a platform for new refreshing stories to be shared.”
Nana Ama: “The Night School has been such a driving force in my creative journey. Not only in the sense that it opened my eyes to new ways of understanding how to create and collaborate, but also in the way that it gave me the confidence to believe in myself and the stories I had to tell.
“At the 2019 ‘grad show’, I presented my project, a video montage called Intersections. Retrospectively, it was a big turning point in my journey, and I came out of it wanting to gain more experience in production. That evening, George connected me with my mentor Joe Connor, a mind-blowingly talented director, photographer and musician who went on to give me so much advice, experience on set, and once I graduated from university, helped me navigate my first role within production.
“Every single person that touched The Night School; the leaders at The Brooklyn Brothers, Yellowzine, my mentors, have been instrumental in my creative journey. I’m still in touch with most of the Night Schoolers from my year, and it’s been amazing watching everyone thrive and seeing the process happen again the following year for other people in another shape. Now, even having a chance to work within The Brooklyn Brothers and learn directly from Saff and George and the team, I can confidently say that The Night School is still to this day, influencing my creative journey and allowing me to keep finding ways to unlock my potential.”
3. News UK – Sales Academy
Global media business, News UK is also helping diverse talent enter the creative industries through apprenticeships. The Sales Academy will help aspiring salespeople join the advertising industry, and aid the firm in reaching its 50/50 gender split and 20% diverse ethnic representation targets in its workforce.
They will offer a number of two-year apprenticeships, which include training towards qualifications and a London Living Wage. The project has seen News UK partner with the Government scheme Kickstart and has pledged to create up to 100 paid placements for unemployed young people. The media giant has also established over a dozen partnerships with diversity recruitment specialists.
So far, they have welcomed eight commercial apprentices across areas such as print, digital and broadcast sales. In their first year, they will rotate departments before settling into one position with the goal of securing a full-time role. They will also study towards a Level 4 Association of Professional Sales Qualification with Pareto Law, and receive mentoring and in-house training on sales fundamentals, organisational skills and practice interviews.
An apprentice’s perspective:
Nico Lloyd, Commercial Apprentice: “I decided to take this apprenticeship with News UK because I truly value the opportunities to learn that come along with it.
“Not only do I gain valuable skills on the course but I also get to learn from some of the finest in the industry at one of the most respected media corporations in the UK. As a young person who started his professional journey during the pandemic, I came to realise how valuable learning from others is when you’re starting out.”
More information about Ogilvy’s The Pipe can be found here. Candidates have until 13th February 2022 to apply for their Account Management Apprenticeship scheme here. You can discover more about the Brooklyn Brothers Night School by clicking here. Or visit the News UK careers page here.