Apprenticeship case studies

Moment and QA's Digital Marketing Apprenticeships

Digital marketing apprentices help to focus the Aberdeen marketing agency on a culture of learning.


QA case study: MomentMeet our client: Moment

Moment is a Scottish marketing agency based in Aberdeen. Established in 2018, the company focuses on inbound marketing, helping clients attract and convert potential customers through digital channels.

In the digital marketing industry, nothing stays the same for long. Algorithms, channels and platforms constantly evolve, so finding individuals with the most up-to-date skills can be difficult, especially outside of the bigger UK cities.

Faced with this challenge, Moment decided to trial apprenticeships in a bid to change the “digital skills gap” narrative. They took on three apprentices, rethinking their approach to recruitment in general as a result of the lessons they learnt.

Adam BellA different path into digital marketing

Digital marketing is a fast-moving industry. Platforms, technologies and strategies change, requiring digital marketers to embrace a continual learning culture. New entrants into the field are often graduates, fresh to work after years of studying. However, while theoretically prepared for the challenges of digital marketing, Moment found that much of the practical, on-the-job experience was lacking in junior candidates. That's when it approached QA.

Adam Bell (right), Technical Director at Moment, says, "A lot of what we do on a daily basis isn't taught on degree programmes. In the time it takes to complete a degree, the industry has often totally changed. I felt we needed to bring people in earlier, starting at a more fundamental level, teaching them on the go as the industry evolves."

Convinced there must be a different path to find young marketeers, Moment embraced QA's Digital Marketing Apprenticeship programme. Believing in the power of training and mentoring alongside real-world, on-the-job experience, three apprentice roles were defined: one in design, a second in commercial and the last in campaign management.

"Meeting QA and learning about the digital marketing apprenticeship was eye-opening. The programme offers candidates theory as well as practical skills, which are industry-relevant right now. We provide an environment to practise those lessons straight away. When you think about it – it makes perfect sense. Of course, we need people to understand why Google Ads and SEO are important, but in reality, we really need them to know how to put those skills to use the very next day," Adam continues.

The right attitude

Moment tasked QA with finding individuals with attitude and aptitude, rather than proven experience in tools and platforms. Candidates needed to showcase the right mindset – the skills would come later. When it came to location, Moment’s flexible work-from-home strategy meant that location didn’t define the talent pool. As a result, the company was able to hand-pick the very best for the programme from the shortlist of candidates that QA put forward.

"We were really impressed with the calibre of people QA attracted. Aberdeen isn't the first place you think of when it comes to marketing opportunities, but we want to challenge that. Our strategy is to hire the best people for Moment wherever they are in Scotland. As a business, this significantly widens our potential talent pool and gives people, especially those who want to stay in Scotland, a chance to join the industry," Adam comments.

Now in their roles working remotely, the three apprentices are part of a growing company. The apprentices attend regular sessions with QA tutors, delving into all aspects of digital marketing. Whether it's running LinkedIn ads or understanding metadata, skills are immediately applied and ingrained on the job. In addition, regular check-ins with QA digital learning consultants and Moment managers support the apprentices, ensuring the passion for learning continues to burn bright.

Adam explains, "Thanks to QA's guidance and structured approach, everybody stays on track. We provide the space for apprentices to investigate interests and gain experience, while QA facilitates learning and mentoring. Of course, it's incumbent on us to give apprentices study time, but this will ultimately benefit the business and individuals," he adds.

Well-rounded marketeers

Moment is passionate about developing young talent and providing multiple pathways into the industry. Adam gives career talks to local school leavers and sits on the digital industry liaison group at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. He believes other agencies underestimate the "well-rounded" experience offered by digital marketing apprenticeships. 

His apprentices agree. Matthew Tough studied graphic design in college but lacked the confidence to pursue this as a career. He saw an apprenticeship as a route to develop his skills and gain valuable work experience.

Matthew comments, "I didn't realise there were marketing apprenticeships available to me – at school, I thought they were just for the trades. This apprenticeship has given me the space to earn, develop and build my portfolio at the same time. I'm constantly learning, be it through the QA sessions or on-the-job. It's not easy, I had to get stuck in straight away, working alongside clients and designing real-world campaigns. But it's exactly what I needed to kickstart my design career," says Matthew.

Another Moment apprentice, Kate MacKay, took a role in the campaigns team. She says, "After leaving school, I wasn't sure on my career path, but Moment's apprenticeship has given me direction. There's a perception that apprenticeships are just for engineering or cooking, but learning digital marketing this way works really well. My role is both technical and creative; as an apprentice, I learn the technical skills with QA, but then I can creatively put them to use with Moment the next day."

Shaping the company's future culture

Moment is still in its formative years, establishing its culture and values. Seeing the apprentices settle into the team and confidently support the workload has encouraged Moment to place greater value on willingness to learn, something critical to an evolving industry.  

Adam comments, "Moment is developing and growing just like the apprentices. Starting our journey with them has had unforeseen benefits. It's placed learning at the centre of our culture and, importantly, brought an energy and willingness to adapt. It's even affected how we hire for senior roles, reframing our focus to attitude and experience over qualifications."

Beyond company culture, Adam hopes apprenticeships will encourage people to develop and play a role in increasing retention. He continues, "Providing development opportunities like QA's apprenticeships drives loyalty. Marketing suffers from attrition; people move at the flick of a switch. In encouraging these development experiences, we hope to not only train great people but retain them for years to come."

Adam is also bringing his apprenticeship experience to his board member position at the Marketing Society Scotland, hoping it will have an impact beyond his agency. He concludes, "Unfortunately, people still don't appreciate apprenticeships, especially in marketing, so it's up to businesses to offer this valuable pathway. I wish I'd had this option at the start of my marketing career!"

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