Katy Nunn, People and Culture Director - FutureBrand, speaks with Creativebrief about why diverse talent is the creative industry's greatest asset.

The creative industries are one of our nation’s finest assets. Before the pandemic, the creative industries were one of the fastest-growing parts of the UK economy, contributing more Gross Value Added than the automotive, aerospace, life sciences and oil and gas industries combined. If post-pandemic we are to continue to grow this national industry, we must ensure that we bring in and nurture new, more diverse talent in order to continue thriving. For many young creatives, getting an initial opportunity at a creative agency can be the hardest step they’ll have to take in their career. So, as more and more young people become interested in pursuing a creative career, the industry needs to consider ways to open up opportunities to a broader pool of candidates to avoid overlooking valuable talent.

In short, the way creative companies hire can be elitist. Most agency jobs require candidates to have a degree for entry-level jobs which means that if you are self-taught – or looking for a career change – it can be near impossible to approach these opportunities. It is also clear that not everyone knows about the opportunities that exist within the creative industry. If you leave school at 16, you may not have been made aware of the opportunities or indeed know if you can develop the right skills for the wide-ranging roles that exist. Careers in design are often geared towards the university-educated, meaning that a whole host of talented young individuals, who are either not receiving further education or reading different degrees, are automatically discounted or simply don’t know it is an option.

"As an industry, we must strive to celebrate everyone’s individuality and help anyone and everyone have the chance to explore a future career with us if they think it is the right career for them."

Katy Nunn People and Culture Director - FutureBrand

This shouldn’t be the case. The creative industries require individuals from every type of background and with skills and experiences from outside what is perceived as a ‘traditional’ educational route such as a design degree. After all, those with an insatiable curiosity for the world, who can build successful brand strategies, are key to all design businesses, but we also need financial and people-focused thinkers to steer the ship and build a successful agency culture that attracts and inspires future talent. It is wrong that people are pigeonholed to believe a certain opportunity is either unattainable to them or beyond their skillset just because of outdated beliefs that have rung true in the industry in years gone by.

So what are the solutions? How can the creative industry open up to a broader selection of young people? First, businesses need to invest in schemes that allow young people the opportunity to work on real client work, build their confidence and grow their skills whilst giving them the critical space to learn and play along the way. There are many ways agencies can achieve this. At FutureBrand, we are excited to be taking part in the government’s Kick Start and Apprenticeship programs and have welcomed several interns and apprentices across all of our teams over the past few months. On World Youth Skills day, for example, we opened our doors to young people who could sign up for a 30-minute session with our team members from across our network and in multiple sections of the business. Be that in business development and marketing to designers and strategists or even just to discuss that young person’s future and seek advice on anything they wished. Our goal with this was to connect with and inspire those interested in our sector and answer questions from those who perhaps don’t understand where they might fit in the creative industries.

Agencies can also look at creating internal groups for their employees which champion and celebrate minority groups in the industry. The only way we’re going to retain our diverse talent – who incidentally ultimately make us stronger and better organisations – is to create a nurturing environment where everyone can see themselves represented at every level.

Brands have long understood that they thrive when they create and design for their consumer base. No one consumer will engage with a brand’s products and services in the same way, as our diversity of experience leads us to interact with them based on our own unique experience of the world. As an industry, we must strive to celebrate everyone’s individuality and help anyone and everyone have the chance to explore a future career with us if they think it is the right career for them. It’s time we focus on making the industry more accessible and representative of the world in which we live.

This article originally appeared in Creativebrief

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