Are we failing adland’s next generation of talent?

We are facing a lost generation in adland as the combined effects of Covid-19 and decades of recruiting from too small a pool take effect.

Paul Frampton, EMEA president of marketing services partner Control v Exposed and chair of The Youth Group, used his platform at the 99//Club Digital Festival to warn “we are failing the next generation of adland”.

He said that the coronavirus pandemic had only exacerbated an already alarming situation. Pre-Covid, just over a third of ad companies offered vacancies for school leavers, and since the start of the pandemic nearly a quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds had been furloughed, more than any other demographic.

Nine per cent of people in that demographic had lost their jobs, and graduate recruitment had dropped by 76%. “There are not enough opportunities,” he said. “And the opportunities that there are are given to people that look the same.”

A fifth of advertising employees went to private school, rising to more than a third (35%) at senior management level, with a staggering percentage having secured their roles through personal or employee networks.

How rampant nepotism has become a big issue

“We have a real rampant nepotism issue,” claimed Frampton, who said the issue was exacerbated by expecting graduates or school leavers to have experience already.

“I’m asking that everyone here supports things like the Brixton Finishing School, IPA’s Creative Pioneers and other initiatives that encourage us to find opportunities to bring the disadvantaged, those without work experience in the industry,” he urged.

It was more important to ensure that those school leavers and graduates had the support, mentoring and training needed on entering the industry in order to progress.

Control v Exposed already had two apprentices working, despite being a new company in Europe.

Equality, better ways of working and the difficulties faced by Generation Z were key themes across the week of the 99//Club Digital Festival, which saw 99 speakers take to the virtual stage for 99 seconds each on topics that mattered to them.

The end of office culture?

Author and podcaster Bruce Daisley, the former Twitter EMEA vice-president, used his slot to predict the end of the era of office culture.

He said the workforce faced a challenge “right now” in that some people were trapped in uncomfortable house shares or struggling to juggle the working day with home schooling but added “we’re going to go into a situation that is slightly better than this”. The reality was that for the next year to year and a half commuting would be challenging and office layouts would necessarily change.

“The organisations that work that out and start planning ahead, are going to be the ones that prevail.” He urged companies to look to online communities for ways of building affinities.

Daisley also said that while some craved the return of office life but if desks were mostly empty, the “networking effect” of the office – and its appeal – would have gone.

The week-long invite-only festival was a collaboration between MAD//Fest and New Digital Age, and followed a successful 99 Club event held earlier this year before lockdown. Over the course of five days 99 speakers are debating topics across themes including media and tech, customer experience and personalisation, brand experience and creativity and innovation for growth.

For every 99//Club app downloaded over the course of the week a donation was made to Brixton Finishing School, part of MAD//Fest’s commitment to improving industry diversity. 

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