Unpaid placements an “abhorrent abuse” says D&AD’s Tim Lindsay as charity launches WPP tie-up

D&AD CEO Tim Lindsay has vehemently attacked unpaid internships in the industry as WPP partners with the charity to back its New Blood Academy programme, which will now include a number of paid apprenticeships for young creatives…

D&AD CEO Tim Lindsay has vehemently attacked unpaid internships in the creative industries as WPP partners with the charity to back its New Blood Academy programme, which will now include a number of paid apprenticeships for young creatives…

“Unpaid placements are an abhorrent abuse of a desperation [by graduates] to get into the industry,” says Lindsay. “Agencies that do that are beyond the pale.”

With the D&AD-WPP scheme, he continues, “if you’re doing work, you’re going to get paid”. The partnership sees WPP make a significant contribution to the D&AD Foundation to open up industry opportunities for graduates. As well as backing the New Blood Academy – a two-week programme of talks, discussions and workshops designed to help graduates make the leap into the industry – WPP will offer a number (the exact amount is yet to be confirmed) of three-month paid apprenticeships at its agencies, which include Ogilvy, JWT, CHI & Partners, Y&R, Grey, AKQA, The Partners, Landor, The Brand Union, Coley Porter Bell, Fitch and Digit.

This link up comes at a time when unpaid internships within the industry are under renewed scrutiny, not least because of comments reportedly made by D&AD chairman Dick Powell during a speech at the New Designers exhibition in London in July. Dezeen reported that Powell had said that graduates should be prepared to “work for nothing” in order to break into the industry. Powell subsequently refuted this and sought to clarify his position on the D&AD website and on Dezeen after reporting of the speech had resulted in a great deal of criticism. Lindsay’s comments today emphasise D&AD’s official stance on internships (detailed here).

The partnership with WPP follows an earlier sponsorship package between D&AD and Unilever, who supported the inaugural White Pencil award in 2012. Lindsay is keen for the charity to continue such connections with major businesses relevant to the industry. “Talent is the lifeblood of our industry,” he says. “It makes good business sense for agencies, networks and groups to invest in our future creative leaders. We hope that WPP’s backing will encourage others in the industry to follow their lead and help drive change in creative departments across the country.”

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