Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Marketing Debuts launches as an apprenticeship scheme to revitalise diversity in creative comms

By Blaise Grimes-Viort, Brand Community Consultant & Social Media agency veteran

Over the past two decades I have been building teams, delivering client projects and leading agencies, a recurring challenge has been fully realising my desire for diversity of creative sources, life experiences and perspectives. I’ve always believed the most creative solutions and innovative approaches are arrived to thanks to unexpected tangeants and being exposed to broad cultural  and educational references, which are generally lacking in mono-background environments.  

Despite personally achieving a balanced level of diversity within my teams, on gender, LGBTQ+, cognitive and cultural background, it was often a challenge due to the lack of investment into offering opportunities to diverse talent at the beginning of the pipeline. This meant there was a lack of available and accessible talent due to restricted routes into the industry, and I have been aware of these limitations and their causes throughout my career. 

My new personal agency project will hopefully address some of these challenges and offer solutions around building representative employee and customer communities around brands, but while I move that from stealth to live mode, I’m very grateful in the meantime to partner with The Industry Club to deliver one route into the agency industry for young people, and provide those trying to recruit diverse new talent the best opportunity to do so. 

Two new apprenticeship schemes are being launched through The Industry Club to support young people in making their career debuts in the creative communications industry. At a time when diversity is a hot topic for brands and agencies, these programs are designed to attract people within minority and low social mobility groups who might not consider marketing as a career. 

BAME representation in the agency leadership industry sector is reversing, with 4.7% of executives being recorded as BAME in 2019, compared to 5.5% in 2018, according to the most recent IPA industry census data, published in April 2020. Only 13.7% of the overall workforce are from BAME backgrounds. 

Over 500 UK agency and industry chiefs signed up to industry group Creative Equals’ open commitment Creative Equals’ open commitment to actioning specific change within their organisations to address non-inclusive work cultures.  

The Industry Club, a specialist provider of recruitment services, executive search and training for the creative communications industry, developed Marketing Debuts as part of a drive to combat the lack of diverse voices and ethnic representation in the creative sector, and to help the industry meet this commitment. 

Starting from January 2021, the 13-month programme consists of two unique and highly relevant commercial apprenticeships “Creative Project Management” and “Social Media & Community Management”.  

Both courses are being delivered in partnership with industry veterans and up and coming stars, such as myself (Brand Community Consultant & Social Media agency veteran) with Jamie Maple (Strategy Director at Wilderness), & Charlotte WIlliams (Founder at SevenSix Agency), and Jo Petroccia (Resource Management Consultant, Trainer & Mentor) with Ben Willmot (Head of Agile Practices at Karmarama). 

For the Social Media & Community Management apprenticeship, students will benefit from a wide over view of the differences and overlaps of Social Media and Community Management, with a focus on successfully managing a brand’s social media channels and its communities. The programme will cover topics such as social media strategy, growing online communities, conflict management,creative content,  social listening, neuro linguistic programming, data analysis and cybersecurity. 

The focus of the Creative Project Management apprenticeship is managing creative projects in agencies or marketing departments. The programme will cover topics such as project scoping and risk mitigation, producing effective project documentation and evaluation, resource management and procurement and negotiation. 

Participating agencies or brand owners will be able to fund either a new learner or upskill a current employee into a creative role through the Apprenticeship Levy, the UK tax on employers that funds apprenticeship training. If the business doen’t pay into the levy, Marketing Debuts will organise for a large company with unspent Apprenticeship Levy contributions to donate them to the participating business. Once secured, the transfer of those funds will cover 100% of the training costs. This process will be fully managed. And the participating business will get the £2,000 apprenticeship bonus and the 13.8% NIC break as well. 

For apprentices, a degree is not needed and they are not expected to agree to an unpaid internship on this scheme. The starting salary will be a minimum of £18k, and they will receive on the job training as well as subject specific training through The Industry School, a leading training provider to the creative industries. 

Deputy managing director Jemima Monies of Adam & Eve, one of the first agencies to join the scheme,  said: “We strongly believe that supporting and developing the next generation of talent, who may have not previously considered advertising as a career or come from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, is vital to our future success, and we cannot wait to welcome some new faces into the agency soon.” 

Industry Club founder and managing director Melissa Smith added: “We’ve worked in the industry for many years, being our clients’ trusted talent partner, and we recognise we have a responsibility to ensure that every gender, age, race, religion and sexual orientation are all given opportunities to work in the creative sector. 

“Businesses have radically changed how people work and post-pandemic skills and ways of working will be crucial to building business resilience. We’ve trained thousands of school leavers and this scheme brings together our expertise in recruitment and training, bringing underrepresented groups to our industry and into key roles.” 

Agencies and brands can register their interest in Marketing Debuts by contacting 

Apprentice candidates can apply to Marketing Debuts through The Industry Club’s website by October 19 2020.