Three fifths (60%) of young people would consider marketing as a potential career choice, citing pay (37%), career progression (33%), creativity (28%) and transferrable skills (25%) as the key attractions.
New research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), surveying the views of 500 16- to 21-year-olds and more than 500 parents, found 36% of young people view marketing as a safer profession for financial stability than other career choices. Just 16% feel marketing is a less safe option in the current economic climate.
That said, 30% of parents surveyed say they wouldn’t want their child working in marketing. A quarter (25%) believe marketing has a reputation for being a stressful job, whilst a fifth (20%) say the industry has a reputation for poor mental wellbeing. A further 19% feel marketing roles do not offer a good work life balance.
CIM director of qualifications and partnerships, Maggie Jones, welcomes the fact more than half of young people would consider a role in marketing, especially given the enormous amount of career information they are bombarded with.
These young people have had a really hard time. Everything they’ve worked towards suddenly got moved around and it was very unsettling for them.
Maggie Jones, CIM
However, she notes the importance of changing perceptions among parents – key influencers on young people’s decision making – if the industry is to attract and retain fresh talent. It may be the case parents are lagging behind their children in believing all ‘corporate’ careers are inherently stressful.
“That can apply to any management job or accountancy. Also, the fact parents probably don’t know is that 97% of organisations in this country are SMEs and actually, that corporate environment probably is for the few and not the many,” says Jones.
“There’s a lot of information there that’s assumed knowledge that perhaps we have to unpack and look at our own messaging.”
Despite some of the assumptions being made, 20% of parents open to their child entering marketing say it is because the industry appears to be future-proof and resilient, even amid the cost of living crisis and economic uncertainty.
This belief in the resilience of marketing points to an acknowledgement the profession welcomes a diverse range of skills, which are highly transferrable, says Jones.
“That wider aspect of marketing is beginning to become known, so more people are aware of how many more roles there are now around content, copywriting and data,” she notes.
“The skills are transferrable into so many different roles. If you get into a generalist role you can easily find a specialism that will suit your skillset or the skills that you want to develop into.”
There are, however, signs in the data the upheaval wrought on young people during two years of living with Covid has taken its toll on confidence.
Of the 27% of young people who say they would not consider a career in marketing, the main reason is they don’t believe they would succeed in the industry (26%). Given formative high school learning was disrupted and a lack of work experience opportunities were on offer, it is understandable young people may doubt their ability to succeed in the profession.
“These young people have had a really hard time. Everything they’ve worked towards suddenly got moved around and it was very unsettling for them. Different assessment methodologies, timings, different experiences,” Jones points out.
“They were going to university for a completely different experience to perhaps what they signed up for. Also, the lack of places to go to get other information. There weren’t open days going on, for example.”
While an element of this fear factor could relate to a lack of confidence in the value of studying in general, the research suggests fewer people believe university is necessarily the answer.
An additional CIM LinkedIn poll of more than 3,000 people found 62% do not believe going to university is important to get into marketing. This opinion reinforces the research findings that half of young people (50%) would consider doing a marketing apprenticeship to enter the sector.
The fact young people are showing an interest in apprenticeships and alternative routes into marketing is evidence perceptions are changing, says Jones. However, she insists work must continue to increase access to the profession.
“It’s a very slow journey that we’re making and Covid has halted that journey, but it’s really pleasing to see that some of the work we’re doing and the profession is doing is making a difference,” she adds.
“There’s lots of work that’s being done in this area and it’s pleasing to see people are starting to react to that and moving along that continuum.”
Jones points to the new T Level in Marketing as an example of a new route into the industry that stretches beyond the traditional A Level to university trajectory. Set to launch in 2025, the Marketing T Level will offer students on the job training, equivalent to three A Levels, including a “substantial industry placement” of at least nine weeks.
The industry may, however, be lagging behind the desires of young people. The 2022 Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey revealed more than half (57.9%) of marketers work for a brand with no marketing apprenticeship. Of the 4,463 marketers surveyed, 21.2% say their company does not currently see the value in apprenticeships.
A further 10.4% say it is too complicated to develop a programme, while 6.6% cannot get buy-in at the highest level for such an initiative.