Bringing back the talent
Attracting and retaining talent is undoubtedly the most important challenge in the communication industry right now. Our business is solely about talent; it’s 75% of our costs and 100% of our value, says Christian de la Villehuchet, Global Chief Integration Officer at Havas and President of the European Association of Communications Agencies.
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Christian de la Villehuchet, Global Chief Integration Officer at Havas and President of the European Association of Communications Agencies
We need to ask ourselves what has led to this talent crisis? Why are we failing to attract enough young professionals and keep them in the industry? And, most critically, how can we resolve this issue?
In 2022, the European Association of Communications Agencies (EACA) together with the European Institute for Commercial Communications Education (edcom) and the support of WARC, launched two surveys in Europe aimed at final-year advertising students and agency recruiters in our sector.
We wanted to find out where the two worlds meet and to analyse the reasons why we are failing to feed the appetite to pursue a career in a creative, media or digital agency. What we’ve identified are the many of the gaps that exist between the expectations of talent and the demands of our industry.
One finding that really caught our attention was that captive talent is fleeing to other sectors such as IT, consultancy or gaming. Although 40% of students had had some professional internship experience in media, digital or creative agencies, almost 70% of them had also considered an alternative career path and 46% said that their career plan had changed since they started their studies. The outcome is clear: we need to make our industry attractive again to the young generation.
What makes an industry attractive to them? Most of the students agreed that it was important to get involved in causes that they felt close to their hearts: care for the environment, promotion of diversity, engagement in equality, for example. Our future talent believes in powerful ideas and wants to be part of the solutions.
I am deeply convinced that our industry is leading positive changes through its ability to influence our advertiser clients to repurpose their companies, communicate single-mindedly about it and take concrete initiatives in those areas, as well as have an immediate impact on citizens' behaviours. But we should also ask ourselves whether we, as an industry, are speaking out loud and clear enough about these issues that matter to marketers and the young generation. How are we demonstrating that we play a unique and singular role in delivering real change?
It’s a very competitive world and the jobs market offers myriad of alternatives for competent young professionals, and every industry wants to demonstrate that it acts for a better world. Where we can attract the best talent, it by showcasing the scale and diversity of opportunities in our industry.
We need to find ways to offer them a different career journey, from creative to digital, from content to distribution, from Offline to Online, from strategists to brand leaders. We need to show how we can make them true communication generalists, architects of tomorrow's brands, changing the image of a project-driven, low-value sector to a true premium value industry.
This is a key step to attracting strong talent and showcasing our huge impact on brand strategies and consumer behaviour.
Lastly, in this talent war, we should play on our core strength, which is the ability to communicate our unique aptitude to fulfill the new generation's aspiration. Our world will ultimately be what the young generation will make of it. There's no better place than our industry to have an effective and immediate influence.