Case studies

Penguin Random House

Publishing has an air of mystery for many people. Assumptions about what you need to find a job in the sector abound: you need to know someone in the industry; have an English degree; live in London where the opportunities are. Whilst many of these assumptions are no longer true, the result is that many people believe a career in publishing is out of reach – if they consider it at all.

But the creative industries are one of the fastest growing areas of the economy, with audiences that are as diverse as the UK itself; and creativity is an increasingly important skill for the future.

As the largest UK publisher, Penguin Random House knows that to publish books that represent and reach more people, it needs to become more representative of UK society. For the past four years, they have been running JobHacks: free day-long interactive workshops targeting social mobility coldspots around the UK.

Young people are invited at random to get a taste of the variety of roles available within the publishing industry, as well as tips on CV writing and what recruiters are looking for. The company also offers 450 paid work experience opportunities through random selection, none by personal referral, to give everyone an equal chance to see what working in publishing is like. For those outside London who might find it difficult to afford accommodation, Penguin Random House sponsors The Spare Room Project and offers a subsidised flat through The Book Trade Charity.

Its work experience intake is now ethnically representative of the UK; socio-economic background is the next target. Analysis in 2019 found that 16% of work experience had Free School Meals and 9% attended an independent school. Work experience is an important talent pipeline and since mid-2016, 39 alumni have joined the company in permanent roles and 43 in temporary opportunities.