VCCP aims to burst London-centric bubble with launch of Stoke Academy

VCCP is busting the shackles of the M25 with the opening of an academy in Stoke-on-Trent to shatter recruitment barriers that stymy the rise of new talent within the creative industry.

VCCP Stoke Academy is open to local people with a remit to raise awareness of the creative industry as a viable career option, democratize access to entry-level jobs and negate the high cost of living associated with the capital. To achieve this the focus will be on improving the employability of jobseekers by providing work experience and summer internships, as well as hosting training programs for Stoke-based employees.

This will be achieved by offering training, mentoring, internships and apprenticeship opportunities for over 500 people in its first year of operation, addressing the reduced opportunities for young people following the closure of venues such as the Watford Ad School.

Led by chief strategy officer Michael Lee and executive creative director Jim Thornton, the initiative is to be delivered in partnership with local education providers as well as the Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, the city council and a local MP.

Seeking to bring cities such as Stoke out of the shadow of places including Manchester and Leeds, the academy will open up access to the advertising and media sectors for people from low-income areas or diverse backgrounds.

Lee commented: “We’ve been concerned for some time about the increasingly narrow talent pool that we’re able to attract into an industry that we’re incredibly proud to belong to. Great creativity has always relied on being able to draw on a diverse group of people. Right now, because of the increasing socio-economic barriers to entry, we’re in danger of becoming quite a monocultural profession.

“We wanted to find a way to remove barriers for people to enter the industry. But it was clear that even if we could solve the awareness problem, cost was still a massive obstacle for the vast majority who don’t live in London and don’t have access to financial support from their families to be able to start on entry-level wages. The easiest way to solve both problems for all the prodigiously talented young people in Stoke who could and should be working in our industry was to set up a local base.”

In the longer term VCCP harbors ambitions to convert the academy into a permanent northern office, its first British base outside London. Thornton explained: “If we can turn the VCCP Stoke Academy into VCCP Stoke, a successful VCCP agency hub, then we will have a way to both support our existing talent who may want to live and work elsewhere, as well as attract those who want to move out of London but continue to work in our great industry.”

The VCCP Academy is housed within a refurbished bank a few yards from the Spode pottery works in a shared office space with Carse and Waterman, a local digital VFX and animation studio supported by VCCP.