Named top employer in media and the arts in 2017, MediaCom is the UK’s biggest media agency. In the second in a three-part Q&A series, its CEO, Josh Krichefski, provides insights on routes into media jobs.
Do you believe there should be a range of routes into the creative and media industries?
Of course there should be. It’s not just about the route though. It’s also about ensuring the opportunities are given to every single person from all backgrounds. Our apprenticeship scheme and hiring process are two examples of that.
We need to ensure that we offer the same opportunity to someone leaving university with a first degree, as well as a person who left school after GCSEs but worked for five years building the relevant experience.
What are the routes into early careers at MediaCom and what do you perceive as their pros and cons?
We were the first media agency to set up an apprentice scheme – well before the Apprentice Levy was introduced. The programme looks for individuals with a genuine passion for the creative industry. Now in its seventh year, 85 apprentices have worked for the company.
We do not really have a graduate scheme – we call it the “executive scheme” and it is for anyone outside of a school leaver. It’s all about breadth – at MediaCom we don’t just want the same people from the same generation coming up with the same ideas; we want different thinkers, those with a different past and those with difference experiences.
The apprentice scheme was integral to us being named as the Top Employer for school leavers from the media and arts sector. It fits with our people first philosophy to grow our talent, not just as media practitioners, but in a personal capacity as well.
How are you supporting social mobility?
I’m a trustee for The Transformation Trust and Futureversity, both of which work with children from deprived backgrounds to develop soft skills, self-esteem and help make them ‘job ready’. I was a mentor to two kids from The Transformation Trust and was so impressed with their attitude and perseverance that I offered them positions working at MediaCom.
I think we can liken leaving school or university to the first chapter in a book. Schools and employers must work together to turn the next page
What are the benefits for employers of working with schools to help open up pathways into work?
For employers, the benefit is two-pronged. Guiding tomorrow’s generation into today’s working world gives an initial base understanding of life after education. Business leaders need to visit schools, offer regular internships and actually speak to our youth. That is the short-term goal.
In the long-term, an open conversation directly with schools will ensure that positive one-off ideas become wider initiatives. For example, an internship programme with a local school is a sure way to give teenagers regular opportunities.
I think we can liken leaving school or university to the first chapter in a book. Schools and employers must work together to turn the next page.
How has Mediacom forged links with schools?
I recently visited Carshalton Boys Sports College, an academy school that educates boys aged 11–19 years old. As part of the brilliant Speakers for School programme, it was an opportunity to not only speak to our future generation, but also advise them on the challenges and opportunities of today’s world after school or university.
While I was there to share my own thoughts, it certainly felt like a two-way learning experience; I got to hear first-hand about how social media, exam pressures and the substantial cost of university are influencing how our youth are planning for their future. It was a day that I was proud to be a part of.
Read part one of our three-part series from Josh Krichefski.