Don’t squeeze out graduate talent

Agencies must recruit for future prosperity

Continual investment in new talent throughout the economic downturn is vital to the future of marketing and advertising. This might sound dramatic, but a lack of recruitment during tough financial times can result in a multitude of problems in the future. Recruiting from the bottom up is essential and the training and development of existing staff cannot be left as an afterthought.

There can often be a knee-jerk reaction to cutting back on new recruitment, especially when training costs time and money. This is understandable but will actually result in a complete lack of mid-level employees when the financial cycle has passed. Maintaining a graduate recruitment programme is crucial; we have never had such a talented pool of people clamouring to enter our industry, so it is up to us to invest now and ensure they are not lost to other disciplines.

During the recession of the late Eighties, most agencies slashed their investment in new talent at all levels. Recruitment was frozen, resulting in only a small volume of new account handlers and creatives entering the industry. There were no graduate schemes. This may have helped with the immediate cashflow at the time, but as the country came through the cycle, it resulted in a mid-level shortage with those who were available effectively choosing their own salary. This left agencies full of underskilled but highly paid employees, something the industry is only just recovering from now.

It is also vital to train people for changing skills. Agencies must understand the skills needed and we must keep changing the agency model to be more flexible and more efficient. It is one of the reasons why we at TEQUILA have introduced the digital academy. Now is the time to invest in the next generation to ensure our industry emerges from the current downturn in fighting form.

We need to learn from the lessons of the Eighties and not make the same mistakes as we ride out the latest fiscal shockwaves. Let’s take the learnings from the last recession and make sure we don’t just set in place a quick fix.

It is up to us to ensure that the industry stays awash with exciting new talent from more junior levels up. We must keep investing in outstanding talent, and successful graduate schemes are one of the best ways to do this.

Otherwise, when we finally come out at the other side of financial turmoil, there will be further problems to face. 

Tim Bonnett is ceo of TEQUILA

TEQUILA is a member of the MCCA 020 7535 3550

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