When I was in London covering the 2019 D&AD Festival (as it turns out the last one held at Truman Brewery until …who knows?), I interviewed a handful of D&AD Shifters. What a joy. These three talents had had their lives completely changed at D&AD. They knew it. The industry had gained three creatives it likely would never have found by itself. It should know it. An industry that lives and dies on its creative thinking is one of the most closed-minded when it comes to choosing who can and can’t work within it. D&AD Shift finds, trains and promotes creatives who would otherwise be excluded from the creative industries because just don’t have the background.
D&AD has launched 2021 edition of the D&AD Shift with Google program in New York today, a program that is in its fifth year and has, without question, been the impetus for a number of similar programs throughout the world. D&AD is doing its utmost to make thinking in the creative industries representative of the audience it needs to relate to in order to thrive. This year’s Shift program comes at a crucial moment as many creatives, and the next generation, in particular, continue to face significant barriers to education and employment in the wake of Covid as well as rising racial and gender pay gaps. It consists of industry-set briefs, talks and mentorship, and provides a supportive and educational space for self-made creatives to gain a foothold in the sector and a crash course in its current processes.
Unemployment has rocketed in the US, with statistics showing that at the peak of the pandemic, in April 2020, over 27% of young people aged 16-24 were unemployed. Against this backdrop, the Shift program is more important than ever to help emerging creatives successfully launch a career in the creative sector. In 2019, since completing the Shift programme, 60% of alumni in New York and London have entered into paid creative employment.
Successful applicants will gain a place in the four-month night school running from October 2021 to March 2022, which will provide an opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects that reflect the latest trends and topics of the industry, brought together in a final showcase of creative work in March 2022.
For this year’s New York program, D&AD has again partnered with adidas to set one of the main creative briefs that will enable its Shifters to develop their portfolios and creative style, giving them direct access to the brand and its mentorship.
Earlier this year, D&AD announced the expansion of the Shift program in partnership with Google. This new partnership has enabled D&AD to launch digital training that aims to democratise access to world-class learning, as well as facilitate the introduction of specialist modules into the curriculum in advertising, digital design, graphic design and production.
Paul Drake, foundation director at D&AD, commented, “It’s time we look towards a fairer future for the creative industries. Creativity thrives from diverse minds and perspectives, and the only way this can be harnessed is by agencies and brands looking beyond those who have privileged access routes to get in. We all need to act on the belief that great creative talent does not only reside in a few universities or colleges. D&AD Shift with Google has consistently matched creative talent with professional opportunities over the past five years. With the continued support of our partners such as Google and adidas, the program is expanding and connecting a growing wave of self-made creative talent to the industry.”
Ayesha Martin, senior director communities & social impact at adidas, commented: “We believe that through sport, we have the power to change lives. Shift is a community-first, impactful program that fosters inclusion in the creative sector and is aligned with our commitment to remove barriers to career access in our industry and beyond. Our teams are looking forward to connecting to this year’s cohort and reimagining future possibilities, together.”
The 2021 D&AD Shift with Google New York program is now open for applications. Further information including entry details and submission deadlines, can be found on the D&AD website.
The Shift program will also be launching for the first time in Sydney later this year, more details to be announced shortly.