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Project Digital – Training the digital pioneers of the future

Project Digital originated from an innovative partnership and shared mission between award-winning training provider Themis at Burnley College and leading private sector digital agency +24 Marketing. The two major forces came together head on to challenge the potential skills shortages facing the fast-paced digital industry and address the evolving academic needs of its future pioneers. The result is Project Digital: an exclusive partnership providing intense and innovative Digital Apprenticeship training programmes, led by industry professionals, driving candidates towards a rewarding and successful future in the digital industry.

Dave Walker at +24 Marketing takes up the story:

“As a marketing agency we regularly had many eager young apprentices through the door,” said Dave, “but we realised there was something missing – there was a skills shortage in today’s fast-moving digital world. It needed an industry led approach – led by people who are actually in the business.”

With this in mind Dave approached Themis at Burnley College and asked if he could be involved by offering his skills, time and more importantly commercial knowledge to apprentices. The result, ‘Project Digital’ was born.


“We launched the apprenticeship programme ‘Advanced Digital Marketer’ in the autumn term of 2018 and we currently have 35 learners on it. But we are looking to add more programmes in other related subjects soon,” added Dave.

The unique programme covers a wide range of marketing skills such as; graphic design, video and photography skills, social media analytics, and business planning. The programme is deliberately designed to cover a variety of subjects, so the learners experience things they maybe hadn’t thought of as a career option.

“By using a wide scope of subjects, it exposes the apprentices to more options, before they think of more niche career areas. The jobs available using digital skills are far reaching, such as web developers, architects, designers, and industrial CAD specialists.”


As part of the apprenticeship programme all the learners embark on an intense ‘BBC Apprentice’ style, bootcamp challenge that lasts for one week. Separated in to teams and given a £50 budget, they have the challenge of setting up a business. This involves; coming up with the business idea, writing a business plan, designing logo, purchasing, finding customers and more importantly, making a profit. The teams also had the skills of a professional graphic designer to develop their logo, so they see what it was like applying outside skills to their project.

The ‘Apprentices’ also get to visit successful businesses in the North West such as EKM in Preston, for talks and presentations from well-known business leaders on subjects as diverse as time management to creativity and decision making. At the end of the bootcamp all the teams deliver a full presentation to say what had worked, what didn’t, and why.


“I was really impressed at their enthusiasm and approach to the bootcamp challenge. All the teams taking part have great fun, learn valuable lessons, and aim to make a profit, which was a massive boost to their confidence. The current apprenticeship programme we have set up also teaches them essential skills on the smaller things in everyday working life. How to dress for work, time-keeping, office etiquette, how to write an email in a business-like manner. These basic skills are vital in today’s fast paced business world but are not really addressed on mainstream programmes. They are things that massively increase employability.”

The programme isn’t just open to young people, Project Digital can also cater for people returning to work after a career break or looking to re-skill in a new area. Dave is currently putting together more courses in collaboration with Themis at Burnley College.