By Ben Simmons

The Creative Pioneers Challenge, a nationwide search endorsed by the UK government to find digital talent and creative entrepreneurs, have been launched today by The Metro and IPA.

The innovative challenge aims to find 300 young people across three categories who will be awarded work opportunities provided by over 100 UK creative media businesses.

The challenge will launch on Tuesday 20 March, with a four-page Metro coverwrap.

Metro is working with over 100 UK creative media businesses including advertising, animation, film, gaming, interactive media, mobile entertainment, publishing and web design companies, to offer placements. A jury made up of creative and digital experts will select the very best entrants who will then be assigned to suitable placements at participating businesses from September 2012 onwards.

Linda Grant, Managing Director of Metro, said: “We want to help young creative and talented individuals to develop their skills and realise their potential. We know how tough it is to get a foot in the door of the creative media industries. Creative Pioneers is a terrific opportunity for young people to take that first step on the ladder and kick start their career.

“In these challenging economic times it is vital we that we secure the future of the creative media industries, one of the fastest growing and most valuable sectors in the UK.

The creative pioneers of tomorrow need to be encouraged and supported. This challenge will equip young people with the skills and qualities needed - innovation, risk-taking, creativity and an aptitude for identifying commercial opportunities — that will enable this to happen. I’m delighted that Metro is taking the lead, along with the IPA and our partner companies, in finding the bright stars of tomorrow’s creative and digital enterprises.”

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:“This brilliant scheme will create hundreds of exciting and rewarding new jobs for young people in the creative sector. The creative industries represent a massive opportunity for growth and the IPA and the businesses involved in this challenge are to be commended for nurturing and developing the next generation of film directors, web and video game designers, advertising chiefs and marketing experts.”

Nicola Mendelsohn, IPA President and Executive Chairman and Partner, Karmarama, said: “When almost a million 16-24 year olds are out of work the need for this sort of initiative couldn’t be more apparent. One hundred companies across the creative and digital media sector, and across the country, have pulled together to give 300 school leavers the opportunity to get fast tracked into their first real job, or to realise their dream of turning a business idea into a company start up. It’s a real first - an employer-led collective committed to finding a solution to the national need. And the creative and digital media sector is well placed to do so, because there is high growth and big ambition for the UK's potential. The government thoroughly supports us in this, as we play our part in helping the economy to recover.

“Furthermore, we hope this nationwide hunt for digital and creative talent will help push apprenticeships into the mainstream and make our industry more accessible. We want young people from any background to enter; it’s not just about qualifications, it’s about having the right mindset and attitude; it’s about seeing yourself as part of the next generation of creative pioneers. This country’s position in the world market relies on us being ready for our digital future as well as our ability to innovate.”

Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, ITV, RSA Films, Aardman Animation, Spotify, Saatchi & Saatchi, Omnicom Media Group, Sapient Nitro, Yelp and special effects company Double Negative are just some of the 100 creative and digital media businesses uniting behind this innovative and collaborative new recruitment drive across the country.

Successful applicants will begin work in September in a variety of roles as apprentices or interns in television and film production, gaming, digital technology, web design and analytics, social media, media planning and buying, creative services, marketing communications and advertising. Furthermore budding entrepreneurs with a strong creative business idea can also apply, and if selected will get access to the best expertise in the business, and support to get their idea off the ground via office space, mentoring or investment.

The deadline for applications is noon, Friday 27 April, and the judging process will commence in May with the successful candidates announced in July. Participants must be 16 years or older and UK resident. No formal qualifications are required to enter.

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