Trevor Beattie throws open agency doors to non-graduates

And quite right too because, as UK student tuition fees head towards the stratosphere (up to £9000 a year is OK according to coalition business secretary Vince Cable, a one-time opponent of such impositions) the number of graduates from anywhere other than prosperous homes is certain to fall.

So Trevor Beattie, a founder of Beattie McGuinness Bungay and famous for his work for Wonderbra and the Labour Party, says his agency is launching a ‘non-graduate graduate recruitment programme’ which will invite people without degrees to show that they too deserve a job in adland.

At the moment such posts are almost exclusively reserved for graduates with some 20,000 a year applying for less than 1,000 positions in IPA agencies. Anyone else has to wriggle their way in via other means, usually by working in a small agency of some description and trading up.

Creatives, like Beattie, have traditionally emerged from the art school route (he went to Wolverhampton Polytechnic) but these are expensive too these days. Agency managers, nearly always former account people, tend to be white middle class graduates from posh universities.

At one time the entry route of necessity for many subsequent industry luminaries used to be the post room at JWT from which cunning and ambitious people could insinuate themselves onto accounts while the public school-educated nobs were deciding whether to finish lunch with port or brandy. Sir Frank Lowe began this way, I believe.

Or the media department which was then deemed to be firmly below the salt.

So Beattie (who’s a generous person privately as well as corporately) has a point. And, as he tells the Guardian, “for a business that relies on insight and understanding of regular people and popular culture this (reliance on the middle classes) is not only unfair but illogical too.”

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.