Adland needs to start recruitment in year seven to help bolster diversity says I-Manifest founder

I-MANIFESTAdvertising agencies could be offering full-time cadetships by the end of next year in a bid to recruit more diverse talent to the creative ranks, according to the founder of charity I-Manifest.

The pronouncement comes after the charity, founded three-and-a-half years ago to offer a link for students to the advertising industry, completed its latest set of placements working with 10 schools in Sydney’s west which have between 80 and 90 per cent of their students from non-English speaking backgrounds.

It comes at a time when there is an increased focus on the lack of diversity in agencies after the furore surrounding Leo Burnett Sydney’s ‘five white creatives’ press release.

Last week a group of 20 students completed a week of work experience at agencies across Sydney, but I-Manifest founder Joanna Pretyman, said next year she hoped to be offering the cadetships as the program continues to grow.

Five agencies took part in the project: Saatchi & Saatchi, TRO, Streaker, Sixty40 and Principals.

“We are working to transform the journey of young people from school to work,” said Pretyman.

“We want to get them engaged at a much younger age so it becomes more organic.”

Pretyman said agencies had complained that while students arrived in the workplace with technical skills, they had little or no experience of the dynamics of a working environment.

She said part of the growing focus of the organisation, which has the support of The Communications Council, was to engage with students at a younger age.

“We are starting (our program) next year at year seven because career influence starts in year seven,” she said.

I-Manifest is working across the creative industries, from advertising to design and fashion, to give students more exposure to the opportunities available.

i-manifestShe said the next transformation was to create something more connected over the long term for students rather than just a week of work experience.

“In-house is the next step with in-depth work experience,” she said.

“Next year we will start the cadetship program, aligning kids with the industry journey from the start.”

Schools currently taking part in the program have 80-90 per cent of their student populations from a non-English-speaking background.

“We are working with 10 schools through the network, all in Greater Western Sydney in the lower socio-economic areas.”

One of the keys to the success of the program was giving agencies a framework which was easy to adopt, as most agencies did not want to take on school-aged children.

However, with the framework of giving students a live brief to work on, which is then presented at the end of the week, it made opening the doors to work experience easier.



Communications Council CEO Tony Hale said the drive to get students from diverse backgrounds into the industry was crucial for the future.

“It’s not every day I hand out certificates to Erico, Nakita, Atsaya and Simo. In the week where diversity has been the hot topic, here is a grassroots organisation that provides a structured programme for creatively oriented school kids to experience the industry first hand,” said Hale.

Simon Canning




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