How the IPA are attracting talent

Guest blog by Indre Dragunaite, Head of Learning Technologies, The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising 


One of the biggest challenges affecting the advertising industry (and any other industry really) is getting the right talent through the doors. The big tech companies are seen as more attractive options for the clever, curious, insightful and creative people that should make up the future of our industry.

Advertising agencies are fantastic places to work, but they still have to fight to get the best talent through the doors. Let’s face it, how often is it that you hear kids say that they want to make adverts when they grow up?

So, the question for us at the IPA is how do you do you get this talent to join this exciting, and thriving, industry? We need to Diversify. To Educate. To Professionalise.



In 2016, the IPA set ambitious diversity targets for the industry to reach by 2020 – for 25% of those coming into the industry, and 15% of those at Board level to be from non-white backgrounds.

In 2017, the IPA launched Advertising Unlocked, a nationwide initiative to open the doors of the advertising industry to people who had never thought about a career in advertising. Every year, agencies around the UK welcome local schools and colleges into their offices, get under the bonnet of some of the world’s biggest campaigns, and see how advertising really works. The initiative has grown each year and is already starting to pay dividends in the industry – building the relationships between agencies and local schools and colleges – and we are beginning to see this turn into full-time hires.

We also help run a hugely successful apprenticeship programme, Creative Pioneers which has seen almost 50% of its graduates come from BAME backgrounds in the last few years.

While our latest figures suggest that there is still some way to go before the industry reaches our diversity targets, the progress has been encouraging and we have put a number of programmes in place to help accelerate this diversification – particularly for those coming into the industry.



Our world is constantly evolving and it is imperative that our industry keeps on top of the latest trends in tech and media to continue to deliver outstanding work for our clients – something that the IPA has been helping to ensure with over 40 years’ experience delivering innovative learning and development programmes.

But you can always do more, and with people entering the industry with a huge number of different backgrounds and skill sets – with a prior knowledge of advertising and without – we wanted to provide our members with a comprehensive overview of the industry to help new starters get up to speed as quickly and effectively as possible.

So, in 2003, after extensive consultation with over 300 agencies, our first online training programme, the IPA Foundation Certificate, was launched.

The multi award-winning qualification, which gives an overview of all things advertising, has evolved to become the must-have introduction to the industry and launched thousands of incredible careers worldwide – 97% of new starters at the IPA member agencies take the exam each year.

It forms the bedrock of our learning and development programme, and we are delighted with how the IPA Foundation Certificate has been embraced by the academic community as well as the advertising industry. The programme forms a key part of the Junior Content Producer, Digital Marketer, and Advertising & Media Executive apprenticeship standards as well acting as a companion to Bournemouth University’s BA Advertising degree.



Starting with the IPA Foundation Certificate, which has turned into a fantastic equaliser for junior advertising practitioners globally, the IPA has been at the forefront of developing online learning and training within adland.

We have worked with our sister trade organisations worldwide to help everyone benefit from our experience, and deliver a Global version of the Foundation Certificate to other markets – starting with the EACA and Europe in 2012 before launching in Australia and New Zealand, the US and Canada and the Middle East and Asia shortly afterwards.

The Foundation Certificate is our flagship qualification, but it is just the start of our learning portfolio, which covers everything from core disciplines, like TV Production, to more in-depth looks at specific elements of the business, such as Effectiveness and Commercial Business skills.

We believe that for our industry to thrive moving forward we need to professionalise and standardise. This is why we have introduced a personal membership programme (MIPA),which we believe will become a trusted benchmark of quality and expertise that practitioners can carry with them around the globe, no matter where their careers take them.

With over 27,000 people taking IPA qualifications in over 80 countries, the appetite for our award-winning qualifications is gaining momentum and is one of the best ways to help agencies nurture and develop their talent and professionalise our industry.


The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising was recently shortlisted in the 2019 memcom membership excellence awards in the Best e-Learning / Online Education Initiative award.

memcom is dedicated to serving professional associations, membership organisations and the wider not-for-profit sector. Our mission is to connect senior leaders to collaborate and to harness best practice – helping to drive the sector forward and celebrate its success. Our flagship events, the memcom conference and awards, takes place once a year. Tickets are on sale for the 2019 conference which will be taking place in Bishopsgate, London on Thursday 20th June. The day conference will feature over 50 high-profile speakers and the most cutting-edge suppliers of the moment, all sharing their insight and expertise. memcom, as ever, will be stimulating a lively debate as well as providing real thought leadership. We also run many ‘memcom mini’ events throughout the year – upcoming events can be viewed on our events page.