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Finding and nurturing Manchester’s creative talent

Finding and nurturing Manchester’s creative talent
Mark Hope, Digital Director at Access Advertising, reveals the benefits for agencies and apprentices of our Creative Pioneers scheme.

We’ve just welcomed two new apprentices from the Creative Pioneers scheme: Keenan Gee and Lauren Adams, apprentice Developer and apprentice Digital Project Manager respectively.

Apprenticeships are completely new to Access, having previously always looked to those from higher education, so I thought I’d share our experience of the process: why we got involved and why we believe it’s absolutely vital for the future of the creative and digital industries.

Facing up to Manchester’s creative and digital talent gap

As a member of the IPA, Access was invited to the Institute’s regional meeting in Manchester last year where Talent was on the agenda.

Along with other agencies operating across multiple channels, we agreed that while Manchester’s creative and digital industries are thriving, there’s a real issue with the talent pool available to us, particularly with the skills and aptitude in the digital space we are looking for.

Our universities and other educational establishments are getting much better at preparing students for the ‘modern workplace’, but there is still an insufficient volume of talent with the skills we require.

We recognised that we could be achieving much more as an industry if more support was given to the aspirational developers, designers and project managers of tomorrow, and look to tap into talent that might be missing from the traditional routes into the industry.

That’s where Creative Pioneers comes in. Learn more about it on their comprehensive website.

We were initially sceptical about the quality of application that we might expect to receive and, having advertised for two roles, we were also concerned that we may have a lot of evaluating to do.

The process was actually a lot easier than we had expected, being presented with a number of pre-screened applications from which we were able to interview and shortlist. The final decision was slightly more difficult due to the high quality of applicants, their professionalism and performance in the selection of tasks we set – in which they demonstrated a level of digital knowledge that would surpass many graduates. Pleasantly surprising!

Over the next 12 months our new apprentices will receive four days a week of on-the-job training at Access with one day a week, bespoke to their roles, delivered through Manchester College.

The Creative Pioneers programme presented some compelling opportunities, with several advantages for both employers and apprentices. We think it’s a no brainer!

Top five benefits for Apprentices

1) Great way into the job market – the most important factor for any young person. Even if they are unable to be hired by their mentors, vocationally experienced apprentices will have a significant advantage when they complete their training.

2) Mentoring – the Creative Pioneers programme stipulates that all apprentices get to work directly under specialists in their chosen field. They are able to build up their skills from day one, accelerating their vocational learning.

3) Avoid debt – the financial reality of today’s higher education is a sobering thought for many would-be students. The Creative Pioneers apprentice scheme means they avoid debt and start earning and learning straight away.

4) Professionalism – apprentices learn how to conduct themselves appropriately at work and start a lifelong commitment to continuous professional development.

5) A career with prospects – the UK digital and creative sectors are a major contributor to the economy and set to continue long-term growth, making them a sound career choice.

Top five benefits for Employers

1) Enthusiastic employees – as a rule, we don’t hire people who don’t show a clear passion for the job! Fortunately, most apprentices are very hungry and determined. It’s still considered a bold step to go straight into employment if you’ve got the grades for university; our apprentices demonstrate pragmatism and optimism in equal measure.

2) Cost-effective – Apprentices may be well placed to quickly rise up through the industry, but they’re also a much less prohibitively expensive way of sourcing new talent. The Government has also made available a £1,500 subsidy which can be applied for when taking on an apprentice aged up to 19.

3) Low risk – apprentices must show commitment and capability, just like any other employee is obligated. Fortunately, the selection process ensures only dedicated individuals are hired.

4) Talent attraction and branding – this is a great scheme and we don’t mind our prospects or future employees knowing about it! Why would a creative or digital agency (or anyone for that matter) be averse to good publicity?

5) Learn something – yes, we don’t know it all! There are some very bright young people out there and we have lots we can learn from them. Today’s apprentices are digital natives and their youth, creativity and lack of preconceptions can be a fantastic asset to a business.

We should probably add another point to the list. As well as the economic advantages and the important benefits for the apprentices themselves, we’ve found the process to be particularly rewarding. We all owe our success to others than just ourselves; nurturing young talent is a way of giving back and passing on the experience, expertise and support we’ve received along the way.

Mark Hope is Digital Director at Access Advertising.

Explore the Creative Pioneers website or contact for more details.

Last updated 16/09/2014

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