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Connecting youth and experience to drive progress in digital

16 Nov 2017

Posted by Cat Leaver

Growing talent for a sustainable future should be a priority for all businesses. In 2015, BIMA reported that of 117 companies, 95% reported that their growth is held back by a shortage of skills, whilst finding it continually challenging to find the right people for required roles. With digital tech jobs being created at a pace twice as fast as that of non-digital jobs, there is a real and apparent need to hone and nurture future digital talent as the industry continues to thrive.

The BIMA Young Talent Council (YTC) was founded with the primary purpose of creating a pipeline of future innovation in all areas of digital, to allow for growth in the digital sector for generations to come. Joining organisations and initiatives with schools and the younger generation is exactly what BIMA does best, with the organisation placed at the beating heart of the digital community.

The Young Talent Council is formed of individuals from across the UK who are passionate about raising awareness of the digital industry and its vast potential for young people. They are professionals who are already working closely with education, community interest groups and government bodies, supporting engagement with young talent.

David Johnstone, Managing Director of After Digital, who was recently appointed on the YTC, knows all too well the importance of nurturing talent within the digital industry. Originally from the high flats of Sighthill, North Glasgow, he embarked on a winding career that led him to his current position within the thriving digital industry. With a chemical engineering degree and a postgraduate in software development under his belt, David entered a graduate program for Phoenix Car Company, ran his own night as a DJ and worked as an account manager at HP, before starting life in a digital agency as a business development manager. Familiarising himself with the commercial arm of the business, he was appointed as a board director at the tender age of 29.

Having progressed rapidly through the ranks, David continued his success moving from Sales Director to Commercial Director and then, in 2016, Managing Director. With David now co-owning and leading the agency, one of his main priorities, both personally and professionally, is to always ensure After Digital is giving something back to the community, or helping to nurture new talent that may not have the social capital to gain access to such jobs otherwise. The continued commitment to both training and confidence building is evident, with many team members starting out as interns at the agency and progressing into managerial roles in just a few short years. David himself is a prime example of such a journey.

Anna Doyle, Business Operations Manager at BIMA, said; “BIMA Scotland has had a serious reboot in 2017, seeing its membership grow exponentially and new initiatives focussed on Scottish Digital talent flourish. Embracing the ethos of BIMA, in addition to the UK YTC, David is also a founding member of the Scottish talent programme, putting his expertise and energy into moving our ambitions forward.

Over the years, After Digital has played host to some wonderfully talented and enthusiastic young people, as well as a plethora of interns and graduates from all walks of life. When David found himself discussing the future of young people in Glasgow (and how digital can play a bigger part in helping them) with Margaret Gibson, OBE (who just so happens to have enjoyed the same colourful upbringing in Sighthill), they found clear and common ground. Margaret invited him along to the EY Foundation Smart Futures graduation, where he witnessed an amazing change in the young people involved, who came from a wide variety of backgrounds. Over the 12 week course, these disadvantaged young people had nurtured their talent and were able to graduate with a qualification that supported their ongoing professional development. Inspired by what he’d seen, David committed to doing more to support young talent on their journey into the workplace.

So, the timing was perfect when BIMA approached him about being part of their UK-wide Digital Day initiative. The program pairs secondary schools with digital agencies for the day, seeing digital professionals head back to school to inspire students and give them an insight into the digital industry and the careers available within. After Digital was teamed up with Shawlands Academy and on the 14th November ran a day of presentations and challenges to engage young talent. The ideas generated and output far exceeded expectations.

In a recent interview with BBC’s Sunday Politics, David discussed both the economy and education/talent within Scotland. In an industry that can change by the hour, he sympathised with teachers and lecturers who seemingly struggle to maintain a relevant curriculum. This is where David believes the onus has to be on the private sector; the agencies that are willing to help, by collaborating and partnering to bring the real world experience to the table, taking an active responsibility in the development of future generations.

Working with BIMA has set in motion a chain of events, which ultimately led to David’s appointment to the Young Talent Council, as a voice for both underprivileged young adults and the digital sector.

On his appointment to the BIMA YTC, David said; “I’m both honoured and excited to be given such an inspiring opportunity to collaborate with like-minded, passionate and talented people within the digital industry, not only in Scotland but across the UK. There is huge potential in such collaboration to support more dynamic and accessible routes into the workplace. We are all spokespeople and influencers to new generations and we must use this collectively to drive positive progression.” 

Cat Leaver
Posted by Cat Leaver

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