Sponge launches Design and Animation Academies to mark Learning at Work Week

​Graduate training programme to meet increasing demand and tackle digital skills shortage

Posted on May 14, 2019

Sponge launches Design and Animation Academies, aimed at attracting and developing top graduate talent to the company. The initiative, which marks Learning at Work Week (13-19 May 2019), reflects increasing demand for learning and visual design expertise to meet the business needs of some of the world’s biggest brands.

The Academies will not only ensure that new recruits meet the high standards expected from the LPI’s Learning Provider of the Year 2019 but, by investing in graduate talent and upskilling Higher Education leavers, we’re helping tackle the bigger challenge of a UK-wide digital skills shortage. Harnessing the very latest in cutting-edge technology to deliver ‘seriously creative’ solutions, Sponge has long championed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) in education as a means of driving innovation in the learning industry.


Kick starting the Design and Animation Academies, we ran our first assessment day at Plymouth Science Park on Thursday 9 May 2019. We invited 25 graduates with an interest in learning and visual design to attend the session. From this group, a select number of candidates will be invited to join Sponge’s Academies beginning September 2019. During the programme, which runs for up to 12 months, graduates will benefit from a day of ‘protected learning’ each week, including monthly skills workshops and practical mini projects designed to equip candidates with the necessary attributes for permanent roles at Sponge.

Upon successful completion of the Academies, it is expected that the graduates will become fully-fledged Learning Designers working from our Plymouth headquarters or Motion Graphics Designers based at our Bristol office. There is also scope to work from our London base or recently opened Sheffield office in the future.

In our ongoing quest to find the brightest graduate talent, we plan to run regular assessment days at six monthly intervals. The next assessment day, aimed at recruiting Developers and Graphic Designers, is planned for June. Candidates interested in these roles will find further details in Sponge’s current vacancies section.

Louise Pasterfield, Founder and Managing Director of Sponge, said: “Learning is at the heart of everything we do, for our clients and our own people. We’re not only passionate about attracting the brightest talent to Sponge but committed to investing in their growth long-term. With this in mind, we’re really excited to launch our Animation and Design Academies during Learning at Work Week 2019.

The graduate market is a hot bed of raw talent. Our reputation for delivering seriously creative learning and meeting exceptionally high standards means that we’re well placed to hone and refine these skills in our people to deliver the very best quality of service for our clients.”

Sponge’s recently recruited Director of People, Dan Marsh, added: “We were really impressed by the quality of the graduates we saw at our first assessment day last week and look forward to supporting those just starting out in their careers with ongoing development opportunities.

We also recognise that one of our biggest challenges to business growth is the availability of digital skills. So, what better way to help address this than via our own programme of learning? As a multiple award winning and highly respected learning provider, we recognise the value we bring when it comes to nurturing fresh talent and creating industry leaders of the future.”

Sponge has a reputation for cultivating industry frontrunners; our Games Specialist, Jason Butler, was named Learning Developer of the Year at the 2017/18 LT Awards. In the same year, Chief Innovation Officer, Kate Pasterfield, won Designer of the Year at the LT Awards and the bronze award for Learning Professional of the Year at the LPI’s Learning Awards.

Sponge’s first Design and Animation Academies assessment day began with an introduction from our VP of Operations, Alan Bourne, and Deputy Chief of Staff, Lisa Coyte. This was followed by a series of ‘Apprentice style’ group activities designed to ‘break the ice’ and as a means of getting to know the graduates better. The candidates got to meet previous graduates and Sponge team managers over lunch, before being interviewed individually.

Feedback from attendees included: “It was the best planned out interview I've been to”; “the day was great fun, really well structured and kept me on my toes the whole time”; and “I enjoyed meeting lots of new people and being able to take part in some really fun designing activities. It felt like an episode of The Apprentice”.

Ranked in the top 50 Sunday Times Best Companies list 2016, we support people growth and development across the business via initiatives such as ‘Sponge University’ (SU) – our in-house education programme used to develop the skills and potential of staff to benefit individuals, as well as the organisation as a whole. We also run regular ‘Inspire Workshops’ to share ideas and best practice across various departments within the business.

In addition, Sponge’s people benefit from a number of wellbeing initiatives such as Health Week, Time to Talk (supporting mental health), ‘Breakfast Club’ and birthday leave.

To find out more about our Design and Animation Academies, student placements and graduate jobs, interested candidates should email graduates@wearesponge.com. Due to rapid expansion, we are recruiting more than 80 people at all levels and across all departments in this year alone. Visit our careers page for more information. 

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