A new generation of leaders on scrapheap

Ericsson announced on Tuesday that it plans to shed 700 jobs next year. The move is part of the telecommunications company’s “ongoing global cost reduction activities”. On the same day, Lloyds Banking Group, 43% owned by Britain’s taxpayers, announced it was cutting another 5,000 roles from its UK operations on top of the 7,500 roles it axed earlier this year.

The depressing news comes one week after RBS, HSBC and Johnson & Johnson announced more than 13,000 new redundancies between them. How many of these lost jobs are marketing roles? Does it matter? Not really. Figures due out on Wednesday were expected to show that Britain’s jobless has risen to 2.5 million, taking the unemployment rate to 8%. Asking how many of them used to perform marketing roles would be fairly meaningless.

Rather, what worries me, is a potential “lost generation” – but not the one the mainstream media keeps reporting on.

We recently hired a new writer to join Marketing Week’s features department at the end of this month. We had a large number of applicants for the role. A high percentage fell into one of two groups. One group was probably too experienced, typically former features editors who had been made redundant.

The other group was young, talented but inexperienced graduates. They were chancing their arm at a role too senior for them in the absence of much else on offer.

This is the generation that has been identified as “lost”, the fear being that these young people will become used to being left behind. That isn’t my worry at all. I met some stunningly motivated young people during the recruitment process. Some had no right to get onto our shortlist for interview but made themselves impossible to ignore by suggesting amazing ideas and producing brilliant articles while working for next to nothing for some great titles.

I am not as concerned about these young people as much as I am about an entire generation of 30-something marketers whose careers have stalled badly just as they should have been breaking into the top roles. They struggle to get past interview stage because they are simply too experienced for many of the jobs on offer. Many of these are marketers who didn’t flinch at the thought of working for derisory sums when they were recent graduates, but we now risk losing their vast experience and know-how. That, to me, is the bigger concern.

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