Blog Posts & Articles

How we're accelerating apprenticeships

DirectorsJanet Hull, IPA Director of Marketing Strategy and Executive Director of Creative Pioneers, launched Creative Pioneers² at the BBC’s Apprenticeship conference on Monday (6 March), on the first day of National Apprenticeship Week.

In 2016, we celebrated the fifth birthday of Creative Pioneers, an apprenticeship programme the IPA has been running with freesheet Metro newspaper since 2012, which is open to all businesses in the creative and digital media sector of the creative industries.

We were proud to announce that over the five-year period we had placed more than 500 school leavers in over 200 businesses up and down the country, in city centres like London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Newcastle; and that over 90% have gone on to full-time employment.

We were keen to stress how apprenticeships were a route to greater diversity, both in attitude, skills and ethnicity, with 25% BAME representation nationally, and 35% in London.

None of this has changed. It’s just got bigger and better.

In the last year alone, 250 more young people found a route into the business through Creative Pioneers.

And this year we aim to double the number again, to 500 plus opportunities.

What makes us so confident that we can get there?

  1. We have access to new qualifications. Our new offer includes training pathways in digital marketing, digital analytics and content production and we can also support apprenticeships in legal, HR and finance.
  2. We have new, bigger employers on board. The government levy on employers with a payroll of over £3m, which comes into effect on 17th April, is providing new impetus for some of our bigger agencies. We are delighted to welcome Dentsu Aegis, BBDO, DDB, Omnicom, McCann and many more onto the programme.
  3. We have a new infrastructure in place to deliver quality service at scale. We have reconfigured our training partnerships across the country under the Creative Pioneers² brand, to provide an integrated national service. We have appointed Arch, part of the Blenheim Chalcott Group, as our technology partner and are building a B2B platform for employers to complement our B2C platform.

What is not changing is our approach to marketing.

Our marketing partnership with freesheet, and third biggest national newspaper, Metro continues. We are grateful for the 4-page wraparound provided by Metro last Friday (10 March 2017) for National Apprenticeship Week.

Our creative strategy remains the same.

We have learnt along the way that our world of work, and our job descriptions, can be very confusing to young people. So our entry point is to ask them to identify their brain type… are they linear, lateral or diagonal (a mix of the two)? Or, in their language, are they a doer, a creative or a planner? And from there we introduce them to the job roles that might fit, and code our jobs accordingly.

We will also continue to feature our apprentices in our advertising, with a pen portrait of what they do. As ever, the company they work for is not very familiar to a mass audience, but the brands they work on are, so this is where we put our focus. So our new advertising features Lia, a planner-type apprentice, working at Starcom MediaVest on Head & Shoulders and Ariel: Habib, a creative-type apprentice, working at Havas on Warburton and Dyson: and Ellie, a doer-type apprentice, working at the Sunshine company on London Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC Earth.

How else are we spreading the word?

We will continue to advertise on social platforms and play our role on the circuit of Speakers for Schools.

But this year we are adding an important, new layer to our outreach.

At the IPA’s centenary event, the Festival for British Advertising, we developed a new Open House approach to schools, colleges and careers officers.

We organised group tours to our exhibition on the past, present and future of advertising for over 30 schools on Thursday 9th and Friday 10th, and it was open to the wider public at the weekend.

And under the leadership of Rick Hirst, Dentsu Aegis group and IPA Professional Development Director, Patrick Mills, we are providing continuity to the programme with an Open House programme in IPA member agencies later in the year.

As part of the Festival of British Advertising, the IPA launched the 2017 Creative Pioneers² national apprenticeship programme – please see our press release here. You can also find out more about Creative Pioneers² by visiting:


Welcome! Channel 4 Join the Creative Pioneers Apprenticeship scheme! 

C4CPCreative Pioneers London is delighted to be the chosen training provider to deliver Channel 4’s exciting apprenticeship programme for 2016 as part of the award winning IPA/Metro ‘Creative Pioneers’. Channel 4 is committed to attracting some of the UK’s most diverse and innovative talent through its apprenticeship scheme and has 12 exciting opportunities across creative, commercial and operational departments in London, Manchester and Glasgow. The roles are live now with a closing date of 21st August and with job roles starting in October.

In 2016 Channel 4 will again broadcast the Paralympic Games to British viewers, they are incredibly proud of the work done to change perceptions of people with disabilities in 2012 and are excited to continue this work. This year Channel 4 particularly welcomes applications for the Apprenticeship Programme from people with disabilities and have ring-fenced 50% of placements this year.

Comments from Laura Boswell – Industry Talent Specialist (Channel 4)

Our apprenticeship programme is a brilliant opportunity for us to bring exciting new voices into Channel 4. We don’t need any specific qualifications or experience, we’re looking for people who love TV and are passionate about starting a career in the media industry. The roles on offer this year are really diverse, so whether you see yourself developing new shows for the channel in our commissioning team, working with brands on sponsorship and advertising deals or implementing new technology systems across the business – we have an opportunity for you!      

Comments from Adil Hafidi – Head of Business Development (Creative Pioneers London)

We are delighted to continue our work with Channel 4, an employer that is an undoubted champion for apprenticeships and specialists in attracting the next generation of diverse talent. 12 exciting opportunities to gain an invaluable on the job learning experience, aligned with an industry recognised qualification and the real prospect of full time employment at the end of the apprenticeship. Good luck to all applicants!

To find out more visit:


2014 Creative Pioneers alumni, Yasmine Tamir, talks about her experience at the 2016 Creative Industries Strategy launch

YasmineIf someone would have asked my 17-year-old, college student, living with parents in a small town in the far North, self: “What do you think you will be doing this time in three years?” I NEVER could have imagined that my response would be “I will be mingling with the EMEA Vice President of Facebook, the Secretary of State for Business and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport”.

Last week, I had the fantastic opportunity to spend an afternoon in Parliament to listen to the Creative Industries Council’s “Create Together” growth strategy for our industry, and talk to MPs from around the country, leaders in the creative industry and the Minister of State for Culture and Digital Economy about working in the creative sector from a former apprentice’s perspective.

The strategy delivered at the event covered all creative industries, so it was intriguing and thought-provoking to understand the broader context in supporting the growth of these: beyond digital, beyond media and beyond advertising.

Fast forward to today and the position that I’m currently in (long after my apprenticeship), I feel that understanding this gives me the opportunity to become a more informed leader. This is even more pertinent at times of political uncertainty and it has allowed me to have an informed point of view when dealing with clients and colleagues who are concerned about marketing budgets and the future of advertising post-Brexit.

Having started as an apprentice in the industry with the IPA’s Creative Pioneers scheme three years ago, I feel very strongly about the ideas, fresh perspective and ultimately, the tangible value that young talent and apprentices can bring to the industry and wider economy.  This was an incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to voice and demonstrate this to the people who are at the forefront of making and supporting these decisions in the UK.

All in all, I can’t recommend the Creative Pioneers scheme to school leavers or employers enough. For me, doing this with the support, connections and unique experiences that the IPA has facilitated (such as this visit to Parliament) has been vital to my progression; whilst for my employer, the close relationship I’ve maintained with the IPA has been invaluable and made me a more agile member of the team, with a wider skillset.

Big thank you once again to Leila, Lewis and the rest of the team at the IPA for the opportunity,

 Yasmine Tamir | Digital Account Executive | Dentsu Aegis Network 

Creative Pioneers visit the D&AD New Blood Festival 

nandadA few colleagues and I were lucky enough to have been offered industry access D&AD’s, The ‘New Blood Festival’ festival for fresh, new and hardworking design and illustration talent. . The industry hopefuls who were showing their work were from universities all around the UK from Edinburgh to Falmouth and were all working at a very high standard!

The festival was also home to many different  supporters and sponsors with the likes of Adobe, who were exhibiting their brand new ‘Adobe stock’ software, and Squarespace who were offering workshops on how to build beautiful online portfolios.

Being surrounded by new talent in the heart of creative London, Brick Lane, you couldn’t help but feel inspired! The variety of work was outstanding with people who you could tell are ready to hit the industry ground running.

One of the stand out pieces of work was a look into the world of artificial intelligence. The student had created a nicely designed book of poems, which looked great in its own right, but it wasn’t until he explained that both the poems and the handwriting was all a creation of a home-brewed artificial intelligence software. A really good, thought provoking insight into the future of tech.

Although the talent on were showing straight from university, it made me think that it’s not what qualifications you have, but the love and passion for your chosen path which clearly shined through in people’s work. Like the slogan that D&AD used for the festival ‘it all starts with a pencil.’

To get involved in the wonderful world of the creative industries, apply for a Creative Pioneers apprenticeship here!

Lewis Coe  | Creative & Digital Media Executive | IPA & Creative Pioneers

McCann Bristol leads the way with support for Creative Pioneers

Jade pennicottIntegrated communications agency McCann Bristol has supported the IPA’s Creative Pioneers programme since 2014, when it took on its very first apprentice. It is now managing three apprentices in 2016 through its in-house development programme across different divisions; account management, digital and creative services.

One of the recruits, Jade Pennycott, 19, joined the agency in 2015 as a junior account executive. Having attained highly at A Level, Jade had a wide range of potential career options open to her, and after some consideration chose advertising. Here, Jade tells the story of her career in the industry so far, her development since making the move, and why she feels it was the right choice to make.

“I had always wanted to go to university,” said Jade, “but when I started sixth form I soon decided that I would much prefer a vocational route to continuing my studies. I also didn’t want to study a generic subject, which I would have ended up doing and come out after three years with debt and not really knowing what to do with my qualification.”

Jade earned two A*s and one A at A-level, and it was heavily emphasised to her by peers and her school tutors that university was the best option.

“I remember when I went to see the careers adviser and told her I was considering an apprenticeship she looked at me concerned and said ‘what are you predicted at A level?’ When I told her, she was surprised and said that most jobs require a degree. She suggested I take a gap year, and look at degree courses that would be relevant to a career in the sciences.”

Jade’s school’s preference for leavers to go on to university was echoed by industry representatives Jade came into contact with while she was still choosing her career path.

“At the end of my final year at sixth form, we had a careers day where we were encouraged to speak with representatives in whatever career we were interested in pursuing. One of the ones I signed up to was advertising. At the event, the first thing that the guest speaker said was ‘I don’t employ anyone unless they have a degree, it doesn’t matter what it’s in’. I assumed this was true of all agencies. I was also told by my teachers and family that advertising was near impossible to get in to, so I initially began pursuing legal apprenticeships as I assumed there would be nothing for me in advertising.

However, not deterred by the advice she’d been given, Jade decided to apply for two creative apprenticeships, one of which was through the Creative Pioneers programme. She said: “Applying for an apprenticeship isn’t by any means easy and, just like universities, employers have high standards and only want to take the best people. Many people in my year group applied for apprenticeships and only a handful were successful. I only had feedback after my exams had finished, so unlike many friends who had university places, I didn’t know what I’d be doing the following year.”

Jade was interviewed by McCann Bristol and later offered the role in early 2015. Reflecting on her time at the agency so far, Jade said: 

“I am really enjoying it. I had two concerns when applying for the role, the first that I might be thrown in at the deep end and be on the phone to clients straight away, the other was that I might be spending all day photocopying, but thankfully it is a happy medium. I have done quite a few work experience placements in the past and the days have really dragged, however there hasn’t been a day like that yet.

“I’ve already been given exposure to some projects on key agency accounts, and have been given experience of managing projects from brief to completion, including direct contact with clients, which has been great. I also get involved with the in-house planning team which gives me a really good insight into the reasons behind us taking certain creative routes, and is a real benefit as I look to develop as an account handler.

“I feel as though I’m developing quickly here at McCann Bristol, and I already have a good understanding of the industry and the way it works. I am given a lot more independence when asked to do tasks and have earned the respect of the team. Each stage of my future development has been clearly explained to me, and I’m focused on what I need to do to keep progressing.

“I would encourage anyone wanting to get into advertising to have a good look at the Creative Pioneers scheme and give serious thought to the benefits of a vocational qualification over the traditional university route. I’ve not ruled out going to university in the future, but I have no regrets at all over the path I chose.”

Our apprentices make a difference from day one

If we want to do great work, stay ahead of the game and make amazing campaigns for our clients we have to attract and work with the best people in town and we need to invest in brilliant young talent. Over the years, attracting driven, diverse entry level talent has become increasingly high on our agenda. Growing and investing in young talent that is right for the industry, right for the business and right for our clients is imperative to our market leading success.

Since 2013 we have made massive headway with our Future Talent offering! We have grown the team to meet a growing demand for young, smart and creative minds. We’ve established new graduate, school leaver and apprenticeship programmes whilst engaging with a more varied audience that represents the consumer landscape our clients serve. We have seen a market rise in the number of apprentices across GroupM and our agencies Maxus, MEC, Mediacom and Mindshare -  more than doubling the number of apprentices, who now account for nearly a quarter of all our entry level hires. Our vision is to see this continue to climb year in year out with the dream of having 50% of our talent from the school leaver/apprenticeship pool and the remainder from the traditional graduate entry programmes we continue to drive.

Our apprentices make a difference from day one. As members of generation Y and Z their experiences and opinions immediately add value to our teams and clients, as they often are the audience that sits at the heart of our clients’ campaigns. They get data, they get tech, they get digital, and they get what we are all about. They are eager, driven and dedicated to become the best, they are keen to develop and grow in order to forge a long and successful career with us.

Exciting times are ahead for GroupM and our operating companies. In spite of apprenticeships being fairly new at our agencies we have already seen some great success stories, with numerous rising stars emerging. We have seen apprentices being promoted to exec (graduate) level within the first six months of their apprenticeship, the “Newcomer of The Year” being awarded to an apprentice, and one of our apprentices being crowned the National Apprentice of The Year – it’s a pretty mean feat in such a short time – and it is all down to the talented apprentices we have secured.

We predict we will see even more success stories over the years to come with our Creative Pioneers apprentices. The majority of our apprentices (Maxus, MEC and Mindshare) are now following the Creative Pioneers programme in working towards NVQs in Digital Marketing & Social Media, or Creative & Digital Media.

Creative Pioneers has been a natural choice for some of our agencies based on their ties with our industry trade body – IPA and their unrivalled experience in the field. They offer an unparalleled breadth of education for the apprentices and a streamlined, speedy yet flexible approach. We very much look forward to many successful years in partnership with Creative Pioneers.

Happy National Apprenticeship Week!

Niklas Nyman | Future Talent Manager, GroupM | March 2016

Living Group's 2014 apprentice Kieran Haddock tells us about his apprenticeship experience 

Keiran09/12/2015 - There’s no better way to build your future than through an apprenticeship. They’re an incubator for new talent and allow young people to kick off their careers – just like I did.

As a wide-eyed recruit, I began my apprenticeship journey back in September 2014 and haven’t looked back since.  The past twelve months have been filled with challenges, successes and a lot of fun as I saw my confidence and skills blossom.

I learned more in the first two months of my apprenticeship than I did in two years of college. 

Following an apprenticeship framework designed for the modern workplace seemed a much more intelligent option than going to university and being saddled with thousands of pounds worth of debt.

My choice was a no brainer. There’s no better place to learn work-based skills, than from, you guessed it, the workplace. Not only has the apprenticeship equipped me with new skills and resources for the future, but it has also sewn the seeds for a fruitful career in the industry. 

Nurturing my skills through an apprenticeship has been transformative. Twelve months on, I’m now a fully-fledged, full time employee with a digital marketing qualification under my belt.

Insightful, inspiring and unexpected are three words that I would use to describe my apprenticeship experience, alongside a few new agency jargon terms picked up along the way – ‘Call to Action’ anyone? Buzzwords aside, the amount I have learnt so far really has been unprecedented - and I have the apprenticeship to thank for it all!

You’re hired! Louise is Zeal's new Superstar Apprentice

LouiseLouise comes to ZEAL as part of the Creative Pioneers programme that aims to introduce talented young people to the creative industries.

After securing excellent results in her GCSEs, Louise was keen to see more of the world so she set off with a friend to explore. After 3 years travelling the globe visiting South Africa, Australia, Thailand and Europe, Louise has returned to the UK with a resolute determination to break into the creative sector.

A keen (and very talented) illustrator, Louise feels most at home working alongside other creative people and having learned a bit about what marketing agencies do, she is determined to make her mark in the industry.

After a rigorous selection process, including a week’s trial at the agency, Louise was chosen by the whole team as our hands down winner and we got to say those magic words – You’re Hired!

As part of her apprenticeship Louise will work full time at ZEAL as an Apprentice Account Executive. She will also attend a Digital Marketing course at Manchester Creative Studio to further develop her skills. 

“After my GCSE’s I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the creative marketing industry. I decided to look for an apprenticeship rather than go to university because I understand the value of industry experience and believe that I can learn just as much (if not more!) at ZEAL. My first week at ZEAL has been fast-paced, fun and I’m so excited to be joining such an awesome team.”

Creative Director Stewart Hilton is confident that Louise will thrive at ZEAL:
“First and foremost Lou has a brilliant attitude. She is smart, self motivated and is already proactively searching out new challenges and knocking the ball out of the park. We are really looking forward to seeing what she is truly capable of here and as we’ve explained to her, the sky’s the limit. Good luck Lou”

Ellie Bissett, one of our 2014 apprentices, tells us what it means to be a Creative Pioneer Apprentice!

ellieIt's safe to say that choosing to do an apprenticeship when I left school was one of the best choices I have made. 

I started my apprenticeship at Proximity London in September 2014, where I was working on Lloyds as an Account Executive. At first I found it all very overwhelming as I was not used to working life. I was finding it hard to get up and go into London every day, and found the long hours (compared to school) a struggle! However, I soon settled in and was able to start enjoying the whole experience. I was able to work on a range of direct mail campaigns for Lloyds, as well as going to a number of exciting events such as the Lloyds enterprise awards in Birmingham and our team away day in Lille! 

After 6 months working on Lloyds, I moved onto the P&G account, which is what a permanently work on now. On P&G I am able to work on a wide range of brands such as Febreze, Fairy and Pantene. At Proximity, we run a site for P&G called Supersavvyme, and it is essentially a site where mums to to get top hints, tips and offers, and this is what we work on day-to-day.

I am so glad I chose to do an apprenticeship with Creative Pioneers as I have now got my foot in the door early and had a great experience of agency life. I am now a full time Account Executive on P&G. Taking on an apprenticeship is something I would recommend to anyone who is looking to get into advertising, and is a real eye opener to the working world.

Adil Hafidi, Creative Pioneers London talks about the benefits of apprenticeships to business leaders looking to get involved with apprenticeships.


Creative Pioneers London were delighted to take part in the FSB (Federation of Small Business’s) Apprenticeship masterclass event at the Mayor of London’s office in City Hall in partnership with the GLA (Greater London Authority). The room was filled with business leaders from some of London’s growing SME’s who wanted to find out more about the benefits of apprenticeships toward supporting their business growth. Speakers included the Mayor of London’s special advisor Joe Mitten, about the importance of apprenticeships to London. Employers & apprentices discussed their journey through the apprenticeship route highlighting the win/win end results, with providers explaining the process to get started

We were pleased to see the level of awareness of the Creative Pioneers challenge was quite strong, with many individuals stating they had wanted to contact us after learning about Creative Pioneers from the Metro newspaper. Plenty of business owners I had spoken to discussed the importance they now wanted to place on improving their digital marketing & social media presence to support further growth, and how a creative pioneer apprentice could play an integral role in addressing this.

We will be supporting businesses find their next generation of talent through our award winning Creative Pioneers programme. To find out more please contact /

Janet Hull, IPA Director of Marketing and Exec Director Creative Pioneers talks about The Future of Talent University? Apprenticeships? Not ‘either or’ but ‘and’…

Janet HullFor Tim Campbell, Head of Client Services for Emerging Talent, at Alexander Mann Solutions, and GLA Apprenticeship Ambassador, there should be no tension between graduates and apprenticeships. Both are viable routes into the world of work. They’re just different.

“Apprenticeships have never not been valuable.” One is not better than the other. There are just “different strokes for different folks.”

At the first IPA platform of Advertising Week Europe on the topic of The Future of Talent, Tim charmed the audience with his personal journey, as well as talking more generally about the apprenticeship opportunity, and quizzing successful Creative Pioneers apprentices about their experiences.

Growing up with a single mum from Jamaica, who had had little access to education, he had been encouraged to make going to university his goal in life. Having gone through the experience he now had a broader view.. “Our German colleagues get it right. Vocational qualifications are integrated into the world of work.” From the age of 14 young people know which path they will take. “To be competitive tomorrow, businesses need the combination. It’s a business priority.”

According to Tim, 70% of graduates come out with a 2:1 degree or above, so it’s difficult to differentiate between them on an academic level. The raw talent coming out of school can be a better business proposition; with a structured programme of training for specific roles and tasks. Tim talked about the value of a ‘psychological contract’ between the employer and employee, with each committing to give and get back from what they put in.

Leila Siddiqi, IPA manager, delivered the main findings of a new Creative Pioneers survey. It showed that 71% of the sample had considered going to uni, but had selected an apprenticeship instead. It made business sense to them too. When asked what attracted them most 63% said it was getting a head start on grads, and over half were motivated by the on the job training and the thought of not getting into debt.

Their expectations of the world of work had been exceeded in most cases; more interesting, more friendly, more stimulating and more fun, than they might have imagined. 50% of them gave the scheme 10 out of 10 when asked, with another 25% giving it 9 out of 10. They would definitely recommend it to their friends.

For panelists Proximity’s Ellie Bisset, Wunderman’s Ngoni Gudo and FCB Inferno’s Christiana Kalu, Creative Pioneers had provided a life changing experience.

So why aren’t there more apprentices in our business yet? Tim’s view was that the main issue lay with lack of understanding about the world of work among careers advisers and teachers. Ellie Bisset, Creative Pioneers apprentice at Proximity, concurred. “Advertising isn’t something you learn at school.” The main advice given to her at school had been “go to university to figure out what you want to do”.

Tim’s next big ambition is to bridge this gap in understanding, with a new programme to get speakers from the world of work into more schools. The IPA will be right behind him.

Sepha Brook from Dentsu Aegis Network talks about the value apprentices bring to their business and what Creative Pioneers is doing to help plug the talent gap.

SephaWith average graduate debt now in the region of £44,000 (Institute for Fiscal Studies) and employers placing greater value on ‘work ready’ skills over academics, an increasing proportion of able and bright school leavers are opting out of the traditional university degree.

As an industry leader, we want to tap into this talent tool to ensure we have the most able employees to better serve our clients. We currently hire apprentices onto a Digital Marketing and Social Media framework delivered by Creative Pioneers. This enables the apprentice to ‘earn while they learn’, completing 4 days a week within their role and 1 day a week attending tutoring sessions or working on self-study assignments.

The learning framework enables apprentices to develop relevant knowledge and skills which can be applied back in the workplace. Also, by levelling the playing field and implementing mindful promotion, we have benefited from improved ethnic and socio-demographic diversity within our entry level roles.

The majority of our apprentices are converted into full time hires at the end of their apprenticeship and we tend to see that they stay longer, and progress quicker.

The Creative Pioneers campaign enables us to achieve a greater profile and visibility amongst our target audience that we could not achieve alone. Furthermore, the collaborative link with the IPA and Metro newspaper, lends invaluable credibility to our promoted opportunities. Consequently, the volume and quality of applications to our apprentice opportunities are greatly improved

The IPA recently hosted an event to celebrate the ongoing success of the Creative Pioneers campaign. This saw attendance of several employers from across the creative industries. Several are already fluent in apprenticeship schemes and benefits they provide to a company. Others simply wanted to find out more.

I would encourage all companies to explore this focus on talent. Whilst the more traditional apprenticeship sectors (such as retail and engineering) offer opportunities in the thousands, the creative industries are relatively untapped. Despite this, there is a deluge of young people who are highly engaged and actively searching for such roles. Jump in!

Creative Pioneers Metro IPA Creative IndustriesArch