IPG media agency UM has teamed up with TikTok and Spotify to launch Futureproof Academy, a course for secondary schools that aims to improve industry diversity by giving teenagers an introduction to media and creativity.
The scheme launches this week at Springwest Academy in Feltham, west London, and will be available to schools across England. More than 300 students in years 10 and 11 (in which students prepare for GCSEs) will take part in modules developed and delivered by UM and TikTok staff. Students will also have an opportunity to work on a Spotify brief and present their ideas to the client team.
The programme will incorporate office visits – which could take place at UM Manchester for schools in areas further north – mentoring, and the chance for a select number to complete a summer internship at UM before pursuing further education or careers.
UM said that as well as offering core skills that would equip young people for the data-driven economy, the course aimed to show that a career in media was not restricted to university graduates. The agency will be particularly looking to work with schools that have an ethnically and socially diverse intake of students.
Expanding career access for those with different educational backgrounds has moved up adland’s agenda in recent years as the value of having teams that are diverse in multiple ways has become widely recognised.
Alice Archer, managing partner for communications and culture at UM, said: “As an industry, we are very aware we have a way to go when it comes to building a more diverse workforce. We’re proud of the diversity within the UM community, but we know there is still more we can do.
“We hope by engaging with young people before they make further education decisions, we will be able to bring whole new talent pools into the media. More diverse perspectives will ultimately help us all make more creative and culturally relevant work for clients. By engaging with young people at a grassroots level, we hope to bring in fresh perspectives that will help us future proof our clients’ businesses.”
Tasha Lenton, media strategy lead at Spotify EMEA, added: "We have a great responsibility as one of the leading brands in the UK and Ireland to help drive change culturally. Bringing greater diversity into our industry is thus an absolute priority for us.
“We were very keen to be involved in this initiative and hope it will equip the students with both the skills and the confidence to make them consider careers with companies like our own. I suspect we have as much to learn from this new generation of talent as they will from us."