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Gearing up for D-Day: How the digital industry is rallying behind future talent this week

Andrew Henning

BIMA Digital Day, or D-Day for short, aims to encourage more young people to consider digital careers. To do that, BIMA, in association with The Drum, has partnered schools across the UK with experts from some of the country's most successful digital agencies to offer pupils their insight and experience on Thursday 10 October - D-Day.

The digital experts will not only share their wisdom, but they will also set the pupils a range of practical tasks spanning app design, coding and social media. Each school will also take part in a very special video production competition, with the kids answering a question set by a high-profile YouTuber.

This year’s D-Day has proved more popular than ever, with nearly 5,000 pupils involved from schools up and down the country. To meet the demand, BIMA is trialing a university “hub” where multiple schools can come together to meet with industry experts.

To find out more about what's involved, The Drum caught up with Andrew Henning, CEO, Redweb and an executive member of the BIMA Education Committee.

How is this year’s BIMA D-Day different to 2012?

“This year we have greater numbers, it’s twice as big. We’re looking at somewhere between 4,500 to 5,000 students. I think we had 1,800 last year. We’ve also had much more agency interest this year. We’re not been able to pair every agency we’ve had interest from. And also this year we’re doing a trial – a D-Day at Kingston University. We had five schools from the Kingston/Sutton area going to the university and they’re going to do the D-Day there and be supported by the uni and DigitasLBi. And what that gives us is obviously a more flexible model that we can take five schools to one agency. So if it’s successful at Kingston we’ll potentially create a number of hubs next year.”

What are you expecting to achieve from D-Day 2013?

“From our point of view we want to try and raise the profile. This isn’t about giving the kids a nice day out, it’s about trying to raise awareness about the lack of talent in digital. So we’re hoping for more exposure and for a greater awareness in those schools. We know from last year that a number of schools involved are doing it again so it’s about building momentum really. So next year if we start Friday with all the schools that did it this year then we’re going to have a bigger D-Day 2014.

Why are digital agencies so keen to be involved?

“We’ve had a lot of people who have offered to help and they’re helping because they recognise the difficulties they have in employing people, they recognise the staff churn that exists this industry and the fact that we’re all really very busy and if we had more people that we were able to recruit how much more work would we be able to do and how much more successful would we be? And that’s not just London agencies, this is across the country. The core issue is around the recruitment of decent people and wither it’s in London where people jump ship from agencies every six to twelve months, or wither is regional where they just can’t find the people.

"There’s a lot of rhetoric from government about digital and creative industries and how they are the future of the UK, and what we’re trying to do is to make kids aware of this and also to see what their awareness level is. When we did it last are there was very little awareness to digital in schools and how people are coming into these jobs."

There is a YouTube element to this year’s event, can you tell us a bit about that?

"It’s basically a small video challenge that will sit among the other elements of the day and we’re asking students to do a six to ten second video clip of themselves just talking to camera and telling us that they think is the best digital idea is."

Once uploaded, the YouTube link can be sent via a direct message or tweeted to @BIMADDAY. It will then be added to the BIMA Facebook page for all to see as well as judging that night at the DADI Awards (an awards ceremony celebrating those in the digital industry).

For more information about the D-Day challenge, visit the BIMA D-Day website.

In the run-up to D-Day, BIMA is also running a short-survey asking digital professionals about how they got into the digital industry. Take part here.

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