"If I'm doing bloody websites in 10yrs..."

About eight years ago, we suddenly realised Bravand was a growing agency, working with about 20 people (now 40 people), but didn’t employ anyone. All but two of us (now four of us) worked for themselves.

We were also fully remote / flex from the get-go (ten years ago), so we started thinking about the potential impact that might have on the ability of someone working in relative isolation to up-skill.

When Jilly and I met 15 years ago at an agency off Brick Lane in London, there was a studio and most people were based there (permanent staff or otherwise). There was structured training, we were invited to join creative brainstorms and pitches, there were several Grey Hairs - including the legend that is Alan Voyle - whose wisdom was absorbed via osmosis. You travelled to and from meetings together on tubes, trains and taxis and picked things up along the way.

A lot of that wasn’t happening for the freelancers that worked with us to deliver projects, and that didn’t sit right with us.

So, we created Fresh Meet. It was meant to be a vehicle to help address issues around training and up-skilling in our industry. We's also started getting involved with the British Interactive Media Association's (BIMA) Digital Day, and wanted to do something akin to that on an ongoing basis.

All of this was meant to:

  • Open minds to the range of jobs available in our industry
  • Help people get into the industry in the first place
  • Plug a growing skills gap
  • Increase diversity, equality and inclusion in an industry that was pale, male and stale

These really became Fresh Meet's key drivers.

Employers were all fighting over talent, but they were all asking for experience and no-one seemed to be offering it (other than unpaid, and that’s just not right, is it?).

How the heck does someone break into our industry in the first place? It’s a Catch-22.

We started looking at addressing that gap - getting someone the experience they needed to be considered for a job (which probably wasn’t ultimately a job with us), working on real projects and getting paid for it. It's win-win-win-win:

  • Client gets a fabulous new digital thingy, community engagement and a fab PR-able story - immediate impact and legacy
  • Talent gets paid training and hands-on experience with a live client / project / brief, they get a project to add to / start their portfolio and, potentially, work with us on other projects but, more likely, is able to talk about that experience at interview with other potential employers
  • Bravand gets to meet some talented people that we might work with again, a PR-able story, a fab project to add to our portfolio
  • Fresh Meet gets the case study to attract the next client and next cohort of ppl looking for experience

Remember "Press Gang", the British children's television comedy drama consisting of 43 episodes across five series that were broadcast from 1989 to 1993? Yeah, a bit like that.

We talk about young people a lot, and graduates, but really, we’re looking at this as something that anyone that might want experience would do.

Long story short, we never got it off the ground. Lack of time, resource, focus - Bravand taking priority. Fresh Meet was dissolved when we moved accountants.

Now, it was also about the same time, eight years ago, that Jilly started saying; "If I'm still building bloody websites in ten years' time, I'll go mad."

So, we thought it might be a good idea to look into resurrecting the Fresh Meet concept and give the ball a good kick. Fresh Meet (or whatever we call ourselves) will be a separate business to Bravand that sits in the middle and brings together / connects:

  • Talent
  • Client / project
  • Bravand (who will ultimately be training Talent)

I’ve been speaking to Caroline Canty via BIMA’s Apprenticeships Council and got together a bit of a plan.

First job is to find an intern (paid) to work with us and identify what funding sources are available to us.

Know anyone? Know a fund? Want to know more? Gimme a shout, yeah?


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