There is a problem in the Communications industry - young people are neither getting the respect nor support they deserve. On leaving university they are expected to work for free and earn their place. And it is earn in the hard knocks sense of the word as they are likely to receive little to no formal training or support. If they did not graduate from University and, worse still, do not come from a comfortable middle class home – forget it - they don’t stand a chance.
The communications industry is becoming elitist and segregated – a business for those people wealthy enough to afford university and to work for free.
Many organisations are doing something about this – NABS, Google Squared and ShellsuitZombie provide additional training and support. Tech City Apprenticeships, a brand new scheme, provides a way in for people not trained at University and from a less traditional background. Livity do fantastic work in the Brixton area providing mentoring and training for people who are typically outside the system.
There is still so much more that can be done. Roll-up our small contribution - Millennial Mentoring. Millennial Mentoring started out as a fantastic idea from Jon Burkhart for a talk at SXSW 2014. After a huge response to the idea we realised it was much more than just a talk – it was a chance to help young people overcome the challenges they are facing in our industry every day.
The recipe behind Millennial Mentoring is simple:
1. Take the CMO’s from three big businesses facing meaty business problems.
2. Take a bunch of Millennials from ooutside the normal communications industry stable - in this case - Tech City Apprentice students from Hackney Community College and Students from Austin Community College.
3. Mix them up. Give the Millennials the CMO’s business challenges to solve.
4. Stew for 6 weeks then get the Millennials to pitch their ideas, dragons den style, to the CMOs.
Hopefully following this recipe will cause four things to happen:
1. The Millennials’ ideas will be spot on and they will get buy-in from the CMO to develop the ideas further. If nothing else, the Millennials will get intern time building up both their portfolios and experience.
2. The CMO’s will have their eyes opened to how Millennials expect business to be done, after all Millennials represent the future. Thereby driving Innovation and Disruption.
3. Businesses, start-ups and investors will see that both Austin and Hackney are hot-beds of talent and creativity and will base themselves, invest or do business there.
4. Everyone will see that young people are a huge asset to any business – it is time to stop viewing youth as equivalent to free labour. Even better that young talent does not need to come through a university fed grad scheme – creativity and ambition is more important than a piece of paper.
It’s going to be a crazy six weeks. The students have done nothing like this before. We have done nothing like this before.
Of course we have help from the experts. ShellsuitZombie is mentoring the three teams. Three day start-up is designing a special 24 hour start-up practice event – to give the teams a head start. And Jon Burkhart, Nick Farnhill, Hackney Community Council, Hackney Council, Austin Community College are with the Millennials the entire way
Wish us luck. At the very least publicise this problem and help change it by supporting TCA, Livity and the modest effort we are making. Next best give our Millennials encouragement online or face to face. Best of all give them a job. One that’s paid and treats them with the respect they deserve.
Huge thank you to everyone who voted for the SXSW 2014 Millennial Mentoring talk and the many individuals who helped shape up the programme.