The communications industry put its best foot forward on 10 November by putting its weight behind an awareness campaign celebrating the benefits of apprentices and apprenticeships and endorsing their relevance, for serious consideration, in any business's talent strategy.
The Drum kindly accepted a challenge from Digital Futures, Creative Equals, Stripes and Creative Skillset to seek to generate interest in hiring apprentices through the #MeetYourFuture campaign.
The concept? Charter a double-decker bus, brand it with the slogan #MeetYourFuture, fill it with more than 40 eager potential apprentices and tour it to some of London’s hottest communications companies, each of whom believes passionately about diversity, inclusion and emerging talent. The response was extraordinary.
To support the campaign, press, outdoor and online coverage was offered by The FT, The Drum, The Guardian, The Dots and Clear Channel, whilst four communications businesses sponsored a 'Talent Stop' for the #MeetYourFuture Talent Bus.
Starting at Edelman, the bus journeyed on to AnalogFolk, Iris and Kantar Millward Brown and Kantar TNS, with word of the drive spreading to more agencies, thanks to a tireless social media campaign rooted around the #MeetYourFuture hashtag.
On arrival at location, 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. In addition, I interviewed key leadership on their views around the need to create apprenticeship programs to help diversify talent, whilst formalising internal strategies to deliver on that ambition. Each interviewee ratified the relevance of apprenticeships in the communications space, whilst detailing their own views on the links this has to supporting agency output, driving culture, improving diversity, winning clients and retaining staff. All agreed it was good for business.
The solution to delivering on a workforce whose fabric is weaved with a multicultural, multi-ethnic, mixed age, mixed education and balanced gender weighting seems straightforward. By engaging with a group of organisations that work together, businesses can rapidly and effectively roll out, not just a strategy that delivers on entry level talent, but rather a strategy that delivers from 'birth to boardroom' in the professional sense, through recruitment, training and mentoring, with those who work, right now in positions of influence in the business.
The #MeetYourFuture campaign does not end now that Do It Day has been and gone. The work has just begun. The four organisations that make up #MeetYourFuture will continue their work together and are engaging with agencies and brands to consult, advise and deliver for them, to help make our exciting and ever changing space one that increases its vibrancy and welcomes all to its fold.
Addressing the digital skills gap, challenging the diversity issues and building a digital economy that will thrive over the coming years isn’t going to be easy. But with supportive businesses, keen to take their place and change attitudes, policies and recruitment, we can deliver real impact.
We can do this.
Jonathan Lindon is chief executive officer at Digital Futures. To register your interest in finding out more, pledge at www.meetyourfuture.co.uk