The School of Marketing is on a mission to open up marketing as a career of choice to Afghan refugees arriving in the UK, through the development of a free digital skills initiative.

The programme, devised by the skills-based marketing education organisation, will enable any individual who has recently arrived from Afghanistan to earn qualifications they can use to kickstart a career in marketing.

The participants will gain knowledge and skills in the latest tools and techniques, spanning SEO, PPC, social media marketing, influencer marketing and digital marketing strategy. The hope is the skills taught on the free programme (worth the equivalent of £500) will enable those taking part to enhance their CV and find a job to support their new lives in the UK.

In addition, the School of Marketing is encouraging any individual arriving from Afghanistan aged between 18 and 28 to sign up to the free Mentoring Gen Z programme, where they will receive access to mentoring from marketing leaders including former Unilever CMO Keith Weed and Boots CMO Pete Markey.

School of Marketing founder Ritchie Mehta recognises how daunting it must be for people to arrive in the UK from Afghanistan, forced to restart their lives in a completely different country. His hope is that many of the 20,000 Afghans arriving in the UK over the coming months and years will be attracted to a career in marketing.

It’s a time when we can show everyone what our industry truly stands for and who we represent – every person in every corner of our country.

Ritchie Mehta, The School of Marketing

“The marketing industry has always thrived on the talent of migrants and people from overseas,” says Mehta. “One has to look no further than the Saatchi brothers, who were born in Iraq and hailed as the forefathers of modern advertising, to see the impact diverse thought brings to an industry that is only as good as its last idea.”

He describes this as an opportunity for marketers to act as role models and for the profession as a whole to welcome an entirely different perspective, foster new talent, embrace change and tackle stereotypes.

“It’s a time when we can show everyone what our industry truly stands for and who we represent – every person in every corner of our country. Beyond this, it’s an opportunity to build lasting relationships and help a community of people integrate into the UK and find a new professional home,” Mehta explains.

While he is aware that the transition for Afghan refugees won’t be easy, for the industry to help, Mehta believes it starts with an open mind and a set of conscious actions, embedded in the belief that the marketing profession is at its strongest when it comes together.

“Being the change we want to see, here at the School of Marketing we want to help support as many refugees as they start their new lives and demonstrate how inclusive our industry can be,” he adds.

“So to help, we have created an initiative to enable them to develop the marketing, creative and digital skills they will need, as well as to get the right mentorship in order to make a start in the industry.”

The School of Marketing has a track record of supporting greater socio-economic diversity in the industry. In August, the organisation challenged marketers to raise awareness of the importance of apprenticeships before the £3,000 government incentive for employers taking on a new apprentice ends on 30 September.

Anybody on the government’s Kickstart scheme – which offers people aged 16 to 24 on Universal Credit a placement for six months – can also be converted onto an apprenticeship and the employer will receive the £3,000 bonus.

The School of Marketing has also hailed the “remarkable” response to the Mentoring Gen Z scheme, which over the nine months since it launched has reached more than 500 young people. The aim is to engage 5,000 mentees over the next 12 months, with a view to helping them find a route into marketing.

Anyone interested in signing up for the digital skills course can find more information here and use this voucher code – DXFF-X8ZY – to gain free access. 

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