In our companies

Education and social mobility


We invest time, money and expertise in education and social mobility programs to support our local communities and help to make sure that, in the future, we have people with the skills we require. We take a targeted approach, aiming to build long-term relationships in geographic regions that are strategically important to us. 

For example, China is currently facing a shortage of talent, and this is a key market where our business is growing quickly. We are working with the Shanghai Art & Design Academy (SADA) to launch China’s first marketing and communications program focused on applying skills in the commercial environment. The first 50 students enrolled in September 2011, chosen from a pool of 1,358. They will complete a three-year diploma program which brings together a strong academic and creative curriculum combined with practical application. It is anticipated that the annual class will eventually total 300.

Some of our operating companies have their own programs to support young people into marketing careers. For example, in Germany, GroupM runs an apprenticeship program for high-school graduates to give them three years of professional experience and training and, O&M Germany runs CampDavid, a 10-month training program for juniors. JWT has partnered with TORCH, a program dedicated to transforming the lives of under-privileged high-school children in New York. In the first half of 2011, JWT provided 20 high school students with the resources and tools to produce their own commercials. They produced two pro bono videos for Huru International, a charity that provides sanitary products for young schoolgirls in Kenya. JWT London runs ‘JWTeach’, where employees visit schools to tell students about the world of advertising. They explain their disciplines, skill sets and what is interesting about their jobs, opening up a new range of career options to students who, otherwise, may never have considered the industry.

In the UK, we are one of around 100 companies that signed up to the Government’s ‘Business Compact’, which supports social mobility among young people. Our approach to supporting local schools, raising young people’s aspirations, improving skills and giving young people access to jobs, are very much in line with the commitments that the compact sets out. For example, we have built a successful partnership over many years with Charles Edward Brook School in Lambeth, London. In 2011, senior WPP executives visited the school and spoke to the students on several occasions, including a visit and talk from WPP CEO Martin Sorrell last December and a visit accompanied by Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister) and Robert Peston (BBC News business editor) in November 2011. WPP design agency Addison led a pro bono re-brand of the school, which will be branded as St Gabriel’s Academy from September 2012. As well as donating its capabilities, Addison invited students into the agency to get involved in the project, giving them valuable work experience. Our work has inspired our clients to support the school, with Burberry donating materials and time to repaint it last year.

We want to get more of our people supporting schools in local communities. One of our senior executives is a trustee of the Education and Employers Taskforce, which aims to create connections between schools and businesses. We are involved in their Speakers for Schools initiative which invites prominent business leaders to speak at schools. In 2012, we will be participating in their ‘Inspiring the Future’ initiative, which enables pupils to meet with managers from large companies and find out what their job involves.

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