SCA AND THE ADVERTISING INDUSTRY
Find out why the advertising industry came together to launch School of Communication Arts, and how it provides our students with scholarships, mentorship and jobs.
School of Communication Arts was reformed in 2010 to solve several problems that the advertising industry was concerned about. Diversity within the creative department needed to be improved – more than 80% of copywriters and art directors are male – and agencies needed to represent the audiences that they are charged with communicating to on behalf of their clients – more than 95% of copywriters and art directors are white, middle class. Diversity isn’t only about ethnicity and gender, but also about accessibility, age and a myriad of other dimensions.
Diversity wasn’t the only problem challenging the industry, it also recognised that universities churn out a certain type of graduate with a certain type of portfolio. The challenge we set ourselves was to develop a better way of teaching creativity, communications and craft, so that we could bring better talent into the workpool. We ran dozens of discussions with industry stakeholders and the same theme kept coming up again and again – taking the best of university and apprenticeship learning models and creating a hybrid.
The School is a social enterprise, co-owned by the industry. Some agencies have signed-up to sponsor scholarships, some encourage their staff to come down to the school to volunteer as mentors, and some do both. Over 100 agencies support the school in some shape or form. These agencies also take an active role in developing our curriculum, which exists as a wiki. The advantage of this agile approach to curriculum development is that we can quickly adjust the course so that our students are prepared to solve emerging challenges facing employers. For example, our most recent cohort will be grappling with crowdfunding, coding and 3D printing.
We incentivise agencies to do good, by rewarding them with ‘first dibs’ on our students. Sponsors always get first choice to invite students into placements, followed by agencies that provide mentoring support. We keep a record of every mentoring day provided by each of our agencies and we convert this into a league table. Generous agencies get invited to exclusive Portfolio Days ahead of the rest of the industry. They also get the chance to set live briefs.
Our network of supporters extends beyond agencies: media owners such as METRO sponsor the school and regularly set the students live briefs. We also take live briefs directly from clients, charging a small fee which goes towards funding scholarships.
A list of our financial supporters can be found here
The generosity of the industry has helped to create nearly fifty scholarships in five years. Together, we have changed lives and we have improved the quality of graduates entering employment. Our school is recognised as being the best advertising school in the UK and one of the very best in the world. All of our students receive multiple offers at Portfolio Day, most gain employment within six months of graduating, and (if it is important) we win more awards than any other ad school in the country.
We have exported our learning model to France and China, and we are speaking to trade bodies outside of advertising to help other industries emulate the collaborative approach to education that the advertising industry has taken with School of Communication Arts.
We never want to stop making things better. We want to provide more scholarships, we want more mentors and we want great live briefs to work on. We are always looking for more top agencies to work with, more brilliant brands to work on, and more relationships with interesting enterprises. The only catch is that we want all of our relationships to be mutually beneficial. We are proud to be a social enterprise and a not-for-profit and we don’t look for charity.