CASE STUDY: AGENT ACADEMY
Developing new talent determined to make a big impact
It’s a familiar story for many twenty-somethings. They finish higher education with aspirations of a career in the creative industry, but don’t come away with the skills they need to find a way in. They bounce from training to jobs, then back to more training, drifting further and further away from their ambition.
It was happening to Khaleel Freeman, a trained physiotherapist who found himself working in Tesco. Until he heard about Agent Academy. The social enterprise was specifically set up to help 18 to 25-year-olds by offering a 12-week programme combining industry training with real-world experience in the digital, creative and tech industries. The Academy’s aim is to nurture the next generation of socially aware leaders determined to make a positive impact in the workplace and wider society.
And it worked for Khaleel. He now works for Sky as an Android developer, and says:
“Agent Academy opened my eyes to the workings of a variety of successful professionals. It inspired me to change careers by taking control of my personal development.”
Creating opportunities for the next generation of leaders
Director of the Academy Zoe Wallace explains: “Agent Academy has a proven track record of delivering success stories for businesses and young people in the Liverpool City Region. Being industry designed and delivered, we work with our region’s businesses to find and develop the talent and skills needed for future growth.
“Creating real opportunities for everyone is at the heart of what we do. We challenge systems that don’t work by always looking for new ways to do good, do more and do better than before.”
As a community interest company (CIC), all the Academy’s profits and assets are used for public good, prioritising the support of the community, not the demands of shareholders. Established by Agent Marketing in 2014, it has already helped hundreds of young people and generated £2.8 million in annual salaries. On average 90% of those going through the programme find a job within three months, while the City Region’s industry has a continually refreshing pool of talent to choose from. For companies thinking of relocating to the area, it’s a hugely welcome resource.
Sharing our knowledge across the country
Flexibility is also central to the way it’s run. If a new major firm arrived in the City Region and needed to recruit full teams, the Academy could run a programme specifically aimed at preparing people for those tailored roles. It’s also proved to be agile around COVID-19 too. Building on a grant from the Department for Education and innovation foundation Nesta, they have launched online platform Leap that translates key parts of their programme into an app. Crucially this means the Academy can now help people across England, showing how the City Region is not just creating opportunities for its own community, but offering support to the entire country.
The Academy isn’t an alternative to other educational routes though. In fact, the University of Liverpool is a valued partner and together they have created a programme specifically aimed at ‘commuter-students’ – those who study for degrees but stay living at home. Zoe adds: “These students are a real untapped resource that can make a big impact if they can connect with businesses.”
Ultimately, Agent Academy is all about sharing home-grown expertise so the entire City Region and beyond can benefit. By building stronger connections between like-minded companies and ambitious new talent, it’s helping create a place where business is good because businesses are good.