Birmingham focus: What does the industry need to do to nurture and attract creative talent?

As part of The Drum's Blackwell's Britain series of regional features, we caught up with a cross-section of local stakeholders in Birmingham to highlight the issues facing the creative community in the area.

Under 25s make up 40 per cent of the population in the city, so there's plenty of up-and-coming talent, but what does the industry need to do to to nurture and attract rising stars?

Simon Morris, client services director, Bareface

The West Midlands region has a phenomenal talent base on its doorstep that is far too often drawn south by the bright lights of London.

As a whole the industry needs to make sure that it gets an equal place at the decision-making table.

Too often big business controls the agenda in schools and this doesn’t always benefit or prepare true creativity.

Another key factor that needs addressing is that educational institutions need to become more professional in the way they engage with the creative industry.

James Edwards, founder and CEO, Bpi Agency

With the region’s universities and colleges producing a steady flow of creative talent you would expect a plethora of candidates to choose from.

But instead we often let the best slip away.

The central region is alive with specialist digital and creative companies.

Perhaps instead of us expecting the youth to call on us, we should treat them like a new client and pitch to them – hold events and give lectures aimed only at students.

Old school maybe, but if we offer them student placements and show them our brightest and our best talent, then maybe we can inspire them to join us.

Jill Fear, partnership manager, advertising and marketing communications, Creative Skillset

The region enjoys one of the UK’s youngest and most diverse populations, well served by outstanding educational institutions with a passion and expertise for the creative sectors.

Together they provide a steady flow of new talent.

The region's creative businesses are undoubtedly well-networked within their individual sectors but Creative Skillset is working to connect employers more strongly across those boundaries.

Joint approaches will help to tackle skills gaps and secure the next generation of creative talent for Greater Birmingham.

Mike Rose, managing director, Chapter

Young people with fresh exciting ideas are incredibly important, they help to maintain creative vibrancy and provide a different perspective on our ever-changing world.

From our perspective, we have built up strong links with Birmingham City University and the excellent B-Hive initiative.

We have people working in both creative and client service roles who initially started on placements and internships – our most recent creative recruit worked part time for with us while at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design.

Wouter Schuitemaker, investment director, Business Birmingham

The need to nurture our tech and creative community is paramount.

There are excellent home-grown initiatives such as Silicon Canal community, but these need to be supported if they are to continue to help shape the sector.

The region should aim to develop an ever larger pool of talented coders to add further to what we already have.

Additionally, support with longer term strategic initiatives such as the #techbrum campaign will help to promote the area by giving identity to the proposition, which in turn will encourage prospective investors and catalyse trade within the tech industry.

Tom Daplyn, managing director, Alive

There’s no doubt that finding great people and then keeping them is one of the toughest parts of running any company.

To keep the talent flowing and engaged in our industry, everyone has a part to play.

In my experience, great creatives are at their best when there’s a problem to solve, and they have freedom to explore.

So within our agency, we have a programme which allows anyone to spend time working on a project they’re passionate about, or to learn a new skill.

It helps us all to stay fresh and excited.

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