It seems perverse that as the UK faces up to a digital talent shortage which threatens to cost its economy £63bn a year in lost revenue, more than 600,000 of the country’s youngsters were unemployed as of this summer.
This skills shortage is being acutely felt in the marketing industry, where traditional agencies are having to recalibrate themselves for the digital economy and wake up to the diversity deficit in their own workforces or risk creating work that fails to resonate with young consumers.
So on Do It Day, educational movement Digital Futures took to the streets of London to spread the word to the industry that there is a way to find the talent they need – and help eager young people find the jobs they crave – just as long as they’re willing to cast the net a little wider when recruiting, and not solely rely on CVs from graduates.
But this wasn’t just a do-goody awareness raising drive. The team at Digital Futures had a clear, ambitious objective: to convince 100 convince 100 digital businesses to pledge to take on an apprentice – giving a young person not already in education, work or training an invaluable job opportunity – in just one day.
To take this message on the road, Digital Futures chartered a double-decker bus, branded it with the slogan #MeetYourFuture, filled it with more than 40 eager potential apprentices and took it on a tour of some of London’s hottest advertising agencies. Starting at Edelman, the bus journeyed on to AnalogFolk, Iris and Kantar, with word of the drive spreading to more agencies thanks to a tireless social media campaign rooted around the #MeetYourFuture hashtag.
Encouragingly, each agency welcomed the apprentices warmly – with all explaining their work, offering staff meet and greets to educate them about the variety of roles available in the industry and AnalogFolk even going to the trouble of a ‘speed dating’ style session involving every member of its staff. “The ambition of today’s tour was to demystify for an apprentice in waiting what an agency is, what jobs there are, what the people are like, because you don’t necessarily know when you’re outside the industry what a digital producer is – no one will tell you that in school,” said Digital Futures founder Jonathan Lindon.
The Iris team give the apprentices a warm welcome
By 3pm yesterday, Digital Futures had secured 60 apprenticeship pledges from agencies, and Lindon said he expected to “smash through” the 100 target within a week. That’s in no small part thanks to the wealth of other activity created to amplify the campaign on Do It Day, including press ads running in the Financial Times, Guardian and The Drum, and a radio ad which – in the spirit of the event – was created in just a matter of hours by the team at Jungle Studios. Voiced by real apprentices, the ad was broadcast live on Share Radio at 4pm on Do It Day, just an hour after the final mix had been completed.
“Do It Day has been great,” said Lindon. “You’re dealing with people who want to do something amazing in a day. There’s pressure on the brief, pressure to deliver on the brief, but what you get a sense is of people wanting to give something back. It crystallises the idea of doing something really good, really quickly, with limited resources.”