Shift is a night school from D&AD New Blood. The initiative offers young creatives without formal arts education the chance to attend 12 weeks of free night classes, and this year's course is now open for applications.
One of Shift's aims is to address diversity in the design industry. “Through diverse eyes and ears, we see things from perspectives that we were never looking for and we do things to ensure those benefits are shared to a broader audience,” says D&AD President Steve Vranakis. “That way, everyone benefits. Shift is, in my view, what the whole industry should be doing on a macro scale.”
Kieran Ahmed, who attended the course in 2017, thinks it's working: “D&AD has clearly recognised a problem with the industry when it comes to diversity and is giving a platform to those who probably would not get a chance based on their background,” he says.
The numbers are also favourable. From the 2017 Shift London programme, 84 per cent of Shifters have entered into paid creative employment, compared to 41 per cent of design graduates employed in their sectors after six months of graduation.
“The strength of the programme has been building year on year," says Hilary Chittenden, head of the programme, which is now in New York as well as London. "We’re always looking at ways to reach wider audiences. Talent is everywhere, we need to look out of our traditional silos to diversify our industry and create a more level playing field.”
One of the draws of the programme is having talks, mentors and creative briefs set by big names in the industry. One such mentor is Chloe Templeman, creative director at Design Bridge. “I like to think of Shift as a condensed version of university,” she says. “When you’re working in the industry, you have a creative director who is there to mentor you, and when you’re a student at university you have tutors to help, so it’s really no different.”
Lucy Jackson, another student of the 2017 programme, felt that Shift helped grow her confidence: “It has empowered me to create work that I never knew I could create, growing my confidence and comforting me on the path of blossoming into my true self,” she explains.
“I’d love to see it become a nationwide programme, providing opportunities to people in other parts of the UK as well as in London,” adds Templeman. “As an agency, we are 100 per cent behind the programme and I can’t wait to see what – and who – comes next.”
If you think you've got what it takes to be part of Shift, apply here. Applications are open until 1 August.