How Internships Advance Diversity In Fashion


Paid Internships and Apprenticeships are pathways Fashion Minority Alliance champions and is passionate about due to their roles being able to shape a more inclusive future for the creative industries.

One of the main reasons paid internships and apprenticeships are so important to the creative sector is their fundamentally inclusive nature. Historically pathways to entering the creative industries were inherently biased due to the restrictions and requirements many employers had for a minimum university level of education. Additionally, getting started in the creative sector, particularly fashion, often requires some form of unpaid internship whereby candidates also need to know someone.  These inherent requirements for entry mean not only do you need to come from a background where university level education is available to you, but that you also need a good level of financial support from family, for basic costs of living. These exclusive barriers to entry are exclusionary for people from less affluent backgrounds where higher education simply isn’t attainable to a large portion of the population where the privilege of not working while you study isn’t an option.

The great thing about apprenticeships and paid internships is that they are accessible to typically underserved groups in both the fashion and creative sectors. Learning through an employer-funded apprenticeship or internship gives opportunities to people from all backgrounds regardless of socioeconomic status.

Earn While You Learn

In terms of overcoming socio-economic barriers to entering the creative industries apprenticeships and paid internships offer the ability to earn while they learn, which reduces a reliance on familial financial support which is often a pre-requisite for unpaid internships.

Another great feature of these schemes is they have the added benefit of giving a much wider opportunity to recruit from typically overlooked postcode areas and prioritise skills over formal education, which levels the playing field for candidates who may face discrimination in the traditional hiring process.

Combat The Challenge of a Rapidly Changing Landscape

One of the key challenges of entering the fashion and creative industries, where everything moves so fast, is that knowledge can quickly become out of date and by the time knowledge has found its way into academic textbooks, it is already out of date. FMA has first-hand experience of this from speaking with the many students that have come through the doors of its Career Days and Workshops in the past few years.  What young adults are learning in the classroom just hasn’t caught up with the real world and, one of the beautiful things about apprenticeships and paid internships is, they allow candidates to acquire up to date skills through on-the-job learning.

So what is there to lose by investing in apprenticeships and paid internships? Nothing!

  • They break down barriers
  • They can help address the skills gap
  • They can help to increase diversity within the industry on all fronts, making the creative sector much more accessible to all
  • They help to create a more vibrant and innovative industry that truly represents the world that we live in.