Last week, as the rain poured outside, we welcomed senior leaders to etc. venues to gather, network and discuss next generation talent. Attendees were able to help themselves to a delicious breakfast provided by etc. venues, and old friends greeted each other and introduced themselves to new.

At each senior leader’s session we welcome a speaker to guide and shape the discussion, and this time we were delighted to have Mae Yip, one of the co-founders of ERIC, with us. Mae opened the session by speaking about how ERIC came about. Mae and Sam, the apps two co-founders, have been best friends since they were 8 years old. Mae’s parents didn’t take the creative industries seriously so she ended up working in accounting. Sam didn’t get into university but then began working at a startup which went on to be really successful.

Both of them shared a desire to change the career guidance for the creative industries, to let people know about the many brilliant opportunities available within them and the different pathways into them.

ERIC began as an event series, transforming boring careers fairs into festivals. When the pandemic hit, they developed the ERIC app, with the goal of making careers in the creative industries accessible to everyone.

“We are all here because we believe creativity is the future,” said Mae to our audience. “But we are welcoming a new generation into the workplace and they have different values and communication styles. For the first time, we have four generations working together in the workplace.”

Mae shed light on the things that Gen Z are looking for in a workplace, and a career, and the group chimed in with their own experiences based on managing and recruiting new talent in a discussion facilitated by Pete Stevenson (The Edge Picture Company). Although of course when having these conversations it’s important to remember that Gen Z are individuals, not just one cohesive group, though keeping the above generalisations in mind might be useful to support your management and recruitment strategies.

Generally, there is more of a focus around purpose and happiness. Gen Z want to go to work because it’s fulfilling and enjoyable, rather than because they have to go to work. They are more interested in their own personal development, than Ping Pong tables and free drinks. Living costs are so high these days that even people on good salaries aren’t earning enough to want to work excessive hours.

Mae also shared some of the data collected by the app so far. ‘Film & TV’, for example, is a category that 50% of app users are interested in. Mae recommended knowing the popularity of your industry as this should play into your outreach strategy. AI was much less popular, but Mae advised that this is because young people see it as part of everything rather than a distinct field to build a career in.

In a recent survey, many young people said they didn’t know what VFX was, but that they did know what visual effects were. Mae advised people to think carefully about the terminology they are using to discuss their industry, and the group talked about the much-debated language of ‘corporate’ in relationship to our industry. “One of the biggest challenges for the creative industries is around how we define things,” said Mae. Schools and teachers don’t know how to define and explain the creative industries, and the creative industries don’t always know how to talk about themselves. Healthcare is one of the most popular industries of choice for a 14-year-old because they understand it.

That being said, plenty of people express interest in getting into the creative industries. Their big question is: how? That’s where apps like ERIC come in, offering a central portal to resources, events and opportunities for young people.

You can sign up for a free company profile on the app here:

Thank you to Richmond Communication Directors’ Forum for sponsoring the event, and to etc. venues for hosting us as our venue partner.

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