An award-winning programme is helping diverse talent secure job opportunities in the creative digital sector, explains Cerys Jones, head of employer engagement & enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) is one of the most diverse universities in the UK. Sharp Futures is a social enterprise that supports diverse talent into employment in the creative digital sector helping develop creative digital skills and broaden employment opportunities.
We established a partnership with Sharp Futures in 2020 to overcome two challenges:
• Manchester Met needed to support students with low graduate employment prospects into graduate-level careers.
• Sharp Futures required new talent to help address the skills shortage in the thriving creative digital sector in Greater Manchester.
Together we addressed these challenges, to ensure students from non-digital backgrounds found successful careers in a sector experiencing a war on talent.
What we did
To align our students with industry need, we recognised our students would require training and upskilling in addition to their degree. They would need to complete a structured programme to ensure they were work ready.
We created a series of workshops and bootcamps for students on non-digital courses such as UX Design, Digital Marketing and Media Production.
Students were offered work experience through Sharp Futures’ POD, a pool of students their clients can recruit on a temporary and ad-hoc basis in the creative digital sector.
This employment suits students as they can choose to work around their academic timetable and apply knowledge they acquired from the workshops and bootcamps.
Both parties agreed themes for the bootcamps and workshops to ensure they were in line with industry need and student demand.
MMU identified students on non-digital courses at risk of being underemployed/unemployed and worked with those students to explore the benefits of working in the creative digital sector.
MMU organised a steering group looking at digital skills in Greater Manchester and invited Sharp Futures, enabling them to further guide our approach to digital skill delivery.
We offered 11,470 hours of skill delivery, 490 hours of delivery across eight programmes, engaged 190 students with 37% still working for POD six months later.
Student feedback was overwhelmingly positive, “Working with POD is fantastic, my colleagues help me gain experience wherever possible and the job helps me stay organised, think on my feet and see the hustle of the digital art world in Manchester truly in motion.”
The students are now trained and ready for graduate work with Sharp Project’s clients and the wider sector. In fact, 87% of students who completed the programme went into positive graduate destinations.
MMU won the Outstanding University Partnership with an Employer ISE Award 2023.
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