Scott Sallée, Social Impact Manager, Dentsu International

For many months now, and with increasing frequency this year, I have seen and heard our young people described as “generation lost”. It is a phrase I challenge at every opportunity, not least because it does not reflect one bit the extraordinary perseverance of young people this last year. They are not “lost” in the slightest. Their response to the pandemic has shown they are resilient, adaptable and courageous.

Regrettably, young people are currently missing out on opportunities that were once taken as a given – this is especially true in vocational education and work experience. In 2020, a majority of employers in the UK cancelled some or all work experience placements for students and graduates. With lockdowns and social distancing measures in England in place through to the end of June, it seems likely the trend will be repeated for a second academic year.

Work experience has been a mainstay of education because of the skills it teaches beyond the academic, and the inspiration it can instil in young people previously unclear about where what they study in the classroom can take them later in life. The Institute of Student Employers recently found that 78% of employers agreed that graduates who had completed an internship or work placement were more skilled than those who had not. Work experience isn’t only good for students, it’s good for business too.

The Code

Five years ago we established our own digital skills and work experience programme called The Code. Dentsu International is one of the world’s ‘Big-Six’ advertising companies. It’s probably not a company you have heard of, but you will see the adverts and marketing we create for some of the world’s biggest brands every time you switch on the TV, go online or walk along the high street.

The advertising industry has a problem – despite the fact it is working to appeal to broad and diverse audiences, its make-up and talent pipeline is sometimes far from broad and diverse – and this gets reflected in the industry’s output.

Yet we know that the more diverse the workforce – whether that be diversity of ethnicity, gender, nationality, class, education, politics, sexuality, neurodivergence, disability, life experience, you name it – the better quality and more impactful our creative output is. We established The Code to drive forward this change.

We partnered with schools in the communities where we have offices across the UK. Our partner schools have a higher-than-average number of students who are Black, Asian or from an ethnic minority and whose students experience disproportionately low social mobility and higher numbers of children entitled to free school meals.

Our staff share their passion and expertise with young people from Year 9 through to Year 13, developing their vocational knowledge of the creative industries, data science and the media – exciting them about the opportunities available to them when they leave school. And it is bearing fruit for both us and the young people taking part. Last year’s edition saw 61% of participants identify as female and 52% from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Covid Impact

Of course, last year, Covid struck and threatened to upturn the entire programme and the work experience and vocational opportunities we could deliver. We worked with MyKindaFuture to develop a digital platform and interactive curriculum to allow young people at KS4 and college level stuck at home in lockdown to take part in The Code’s creative competition – the Rise Up Challenge.

The structured interactive curriculum takes young people step-by-step through the process of responding to a real-world creative brief from one of our clients – putting into action a wealth of skills, from planning, to ideation, creative design to presenting. The digital portal includes a safeguarded platform for young participants to connect with Dentsu International’s volunteer mentors to offer support and guidance. For our volunteers, The Code offers a way to honour the support they received to get to where they are today and pay it forward.

The pivot to digital delivery was a risk, but one that paid off for the participants, for us and for our brand partner in the 2020 prize - Cadbury. The winner, Layla Assi from Stockport, developed a campaign for Dairy Milk about bringing communities together at a time when the country was having to isolate.

The response and creativity of the young people taking part in the 2020 Rise Up challenge made it a massive success. Far from being ‘generation lost’ they demonstrated the self-motivation and determination to succeed that has too often gone uncredited in the last year.

Excitingly, the success of the switch to a digital curriculum last year, means we can once again offer the vocational skills and work experience that many companies are not in a position at present to provide.

The Code has launched its newest Rise Up Creative Challenge in partnership with the Co-op, calling on all students aged 15 to 18 years old to come up with a sustainable and purpose-driven creative digital advertising campaign in three areas of focus for the Co-op: Community, Healthy Living and A Better World.

Just as young people have adapted to the obstacles and challenges presented by the pandemic, businesses and brands have an opportunity to pivot and adapt their approaches to work experience and supporting vocational education that not only benefits their communities, but their talent pipeline too. After five years, we are now regularly offering young people that have taken part in The Code apprenticeships and entry level positions in all areas of dentsu’s business.

I hope that the restrictions that have so impacted young people’s access to practical work experience this last year rapidly fade into memory. Until that happens, be in no doubt that young creative minds, with the right support and opportunity, can still thrive. This generation of young people is anything but ‘lost’.

The Rise Up Creative Challenge is open to all students aged 15 to 18 years old in the UK.

Scott Sallée, Social Impact Manager, Dentsu International

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page