The One Club for Creativity is starting an educational program that’s catered toward art directors, copywriters and graphic designers who fear that their days at an agency might be numbered.
Called 2nd Skill, the virtual nine-month program, which kicks off next year, will offer creatives the chance to “retrain, upskill and future-proof” by learning or improving skills that are in demand today. The part-time program, which costs $11,500 to enroll in, will offer three tracks: user experience (UX) design; user interface (UI) and visual design; and content strategy and UX writing.
2nd Skill will initially accept 48 applicants, 16 for each track. All applicants must have at least two years of experience in the industry. Classes will be taught in partnership with Seattle’s School of Visual Concepts. According to Kevin Swanepoel, CEO of The One Club, course instructors are working professionals from the likes of Amazon, Facebook and Google.
Swanepoel said The One Club was inspired to start 2nd Skill for a few reasons, one being a recent Forrester report that found that tens of thousands of agency jobs have been cut due to Covid-19, leaving many in the industry unemployed.
“We’ve got this industry that’s changing dramatically,” Swanepoel said. “If you want to be a modern-day creative, these are the capabilities that are required.”
He also claims that some agencies have stopped doing internal professional development in recent years due to tightening budgets, making it harder for employees to keep up with the latest trends and skill sets.
“As their piece of the pie has gotten smaller, the thing that agencies have cut is professional development,” he said. According to Swanepoel, 2nd Skill will solve that by giving established creatives the opportunity to build upon their talents. This, in turn, will “allow agencies to retain valuable creatives,” Swanepoel said, particularly older ones who didn’t start out their careers in disciplines such as user experience design.
“A lot of creatives are being aged out, whether we like to say it or not,” Swanepoel said. “It is happening.”
He foresees graduates of the program not only landing jobs at agencies, but also at brands. Swanepoel said The One Club plans to market the program to both agencies and brands in the hopes that they may consider sponsoring some of their employees for 2nd Skill.
The One Club’s new program isn’t necessarily the first of its kind; a number of ad schools across the country offer similar trainings. Chicago’s Portfolio School, for instance, is currently offering an eight-week UX writing course for $600. Miami Ad School conducts a 12-week UX design “bootcamp,” according to its website. The Creative Circus, a portfolio school based in Atlanta, offers a “creative technology” program that focuses on skills including UX design and motion graphics.
Swanepoel said 2nd Skill aims to differentiate from these types of programs by building on creatives’ existing skill sets and knowledge as opposed to starting from the ground up. Plus, he said he thinks ad schools by and large haven’t kept up with the industry’s rapid change, as many still focus on art direction, strategy, copywriting and more traditional modes of advertising. “Their curriculum hasn’t changed in 15 or 20 years,” he said.
An agency recruiter who asked to stay anonymous for this article echoed his sentiment, noting that there “isn’t a ton of content” related to UX, UI and visual design at ad schools.
“Employees are looking to their employers more and more to provide them with opportunities to learn new or a deeper bench of skills that aren’t necessarily taught within ad school programs,” they said. “I don’t think younger employees necessarily have a leg up with their education, but the folks we see come in with a digital and creative skill set often retain those skills because it’s where their interests lie.”