Advertising can change the world with the right people: Lifting the lid on apprenticeships

For National Apprenticeship Week Louisa Stephens shares the importance of GroupM apprenticeships

Louisa Stephens

Senior Talent Lead GroupM


National Apprenticeship Week is here and it’s a chance for employers to celebrate the talent coming through their ranks and showcase the opportunity that non-traditional routes can offer.

Apprentices provide plenty of benefits to employers including plugging skills gaps, incorporating fresh perspectives, retaining staff, and developing future leaders in your business, whilst also having a wider positive impact on communities and the economy.

But unfortunately in adland, the number of first-year trainees and apprentices fell in 2023, by around 46% and 2% respectively. It’s important that, even in times of uncertainty and added pressure on budgets, we don’t jeopardise our efforts to help make our industry a more diverse and inclusive place to work.

At GroupM we’re working to shape the next era of media where advertising works better for people, but we know we can’t do it without investing in the future workforce we want.

We have a duty to ensure the advertising world is representative of modern Britain, and apprenticeships can be a key way to drive greater inclusivity in the industry.

Louisa Stephens, Senior Talent Lead, GroupM

Our UK and EMEA CEO, Josh Krichefski, who is also the current IPA President, set out last year in his ‘People First’ agenda that there's a vital need for the industry to better attract and develop talent, and re-affirm advertising’s cultural and societal relevance.

We have a duty to ensure the advertising world is representative of modern Britain, and apprenticeships can be a key way to drive greater inclusivity in the industry. 

Embracing talent at all stages 

At GroupM, we have a number of learning pathways encouraging new and diverse talent into the advertising and media industry.

Late last year, in the UK we launched Embark, our brand-new apprenticeship scheme designed to provide school leavers, graduates and career changers an opportunity to join our industry – regardless of prior education level.

We spoke to a number of our Embark apprentices, now four months into their roles, about why they chose to pursue an apprenticeship.

Alfie Bates, a level 3 assistant apprentice, said they were conflicted about which route to take after completing their A-levels, ultimately choosing an apprenticeship. “The idea of studying towards a qualification whilst working and gaining on-the-job experience really appealed to me.”

Alfie’s conflicting feelings about whether to pursue a university degree or a paid apprenticeship are echoed by many other apprentices. In the case of Jade Breame, a talent team apprentice, they felt the opportunity was “so much more worthwhile than getting a degree due to being paid to learn and gain a qualification”, acquiring valuable industry experience and transferable skills as well.

Many of our Embark apprentices do not have university degrees, but our schemes also welcome those with higher qualifications, because we believe our apprenticeships shouldn’t discriminate based on education level. Bradley Potter, one of our SEO apprentices, admits “I did not have a well-educated background. But what I did have was passion”, which clearly shone through in their application and subsequent marketing role, one of the reasons they’ve quickly progressed. 

Guest Author

Louisa Stephens

Senior Talent Lead GroupM


Louisa Stephens, SNR Talent lead at GroupM, leading the future talent team with recruiting entry level talent covering apprentices, graduates, and career changers across the GroupM Network. My passion in early careers is fuelled by finding our future industry leaders and our future CEO.