Struggling to see how to diversify your talent pool?


Sumi Ejiri talks about how A New Direction and ustwo are rethinking and redesigning how young adults get jobs in digital.

We care about creating systemic shifts that change how and who get jobs in the creative industries. The challenges that face the young people we work with are well documented. Expensive university degrees are not the right choice for everyone, and in the creative industries, it can be just as much about who you know as what you know, making it hard to break in.

For jobs in tech and digital, we find that the challenges are more complex. It’s not always easy to know what the entry-level jobs are, nor what skills you need to get them. Careers advisors aren’t always well equipped to provide advice and guidance on these new industries. And even some graduates find the gap between education and industry too hard to bridge without a helping hand.

With these challenges in mind, we’ve teamed up with the London Legacy Development Corporation and digital agency ustwo to address how we can create an alternative route in to digital jobs – through Flipside – a training programme that is designed and run by industry professionals.

Embarking on a service design process with an amazing team of UX and product designers has been nothing short of great. They really know how to explore and articulate a problem before starting to think up solutions. The process has been a great opportunity to connect with businesses who really care about providing new opportunities for young talent, as well as training bodies who are already trying to rethink avenues into tech.

Here’s a quick summary of what we found out:

Challenge 1

Industry feel like education doesn’t always equip candidates with the skills they need to start work. In some cases, industry moves too fast for established learning syllabus to be able to keep up.

Our solution:

  • Flipside will have a shifting syllabus that is designed and delivered by the industry
  • Training will have an emphasis on learning how to learn – because industry needs flexible minds that can adapt to fast industry shifts
  • In the early stages, avoiding the need for qualifications so we can maintain flex, with an eye to being able to adapt the course to models like apprenticeships in the long-term.

Challenge 2

Digital agencies have the right ethos when it comes to wanting to provide opportunities for young adults – but they don’t always have the time and capacity to take someone on full time and provide the support they need.

Our solution:

  • Flipside provides a carousel training model that allows candidates to receive training from a number of agencies across different skillsets
  • Candidates are given the opportunity to network across all the agencies involved, and both candidates and agencies can pick who is the best fit for them at the end of the course.

Challenge 3

Industry knows they need to diversify, but constantly tells us they don’t get applications of the right calibre from the right demographic groups.

Our solution:

  • Flipside will work in regular cohorts to build a talent pipeline into multiple agencies, and further training opportunities. The course is designed to work with young adults at a range of life stages, and might be a finishing school for graduates, or something that helps a school-leaver bridge into an apprenticeship.

Each industry we work with has their own drivers for building diversity into their teams. Working with digital agencies is great, because they’re so willing to think outside the norm to create new solutions to problems. It’s also been refreshing to see how so many agencies who regularly compete with each other are willing to work together to grow a talent pool that will ultimately help the whole industry.

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