Nicola Mendelsohn, President of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and Executive Chairman, Karmarama, called on the advertising industry to work with higher and further education to develop fresh talent in order to embrace change, harness new technologies, and lead globally.

Mendelsohn, asserted how the advertising industry is a significant driver of growth in the UK economy, stimulating cutting edge innovation and job creation, and how it has a higher percentage of knowledge workers and high growth firms than the UK economy as a whole. She also pointed out that the 250 agencies in the IPA membership drive the sector, last year hiring 700 new graduates.

Despite this success, however, Mendelsohn warned that in order to maintain its powerful position; the industry must not rest on its laurels. With considerable business volatility and intense competition from other markets, she stressed that it will be imperative for the advertising industry to grow its numbers – stating that it has the potential to double graduate in-take over the next few years – and, crucially, to ensure that they are equipped with the right skills to embrace the rapidly changing digital landscape.

To address this, Mendelsohn announced the launch of her comprehensive growth agenda to the industry audience, which has been documented in a new IPA report Creative Pioneers – the Future of Skills, Talent and Connections, and published in support of her Presidential agenda. The report, puts talent firmly at the centre, and details the launch of a range of new pro-grammes to attract a new mix of graduates and develop the next generation of advertising. They include:

IPA Talent Pool
A new initiative with top universities to use the IPA as a hub for graduates from non-traditional disciplines. In collaboration with the Top Employers’ directory and website, and encouraging the use of the IPA ‘Diagonal Thinking’ self-assessment tool, the IPA is seeking to help its member agencies identify top talent to fit the needs of the new digital economy: data analysts; strategists; creative leaders and project managers.

AM/IPA Educational Foundation
The IPA is joining forces with the Academy of Marketing to create an Educational Foundation, which will drive development and sponsorship of more dynamic and responsive Higher Education provision. The IPA is contributing keynote speakers and seminars to the 2012 AM conference on ‘Where technology meets creativity’.

The IPA is developing a strategic partnership with University of Southampton; working with undergraduate and postgraduate students trialling new degree pathways, which combine analytics and creativity and fuse the disciplines of computer sciences and strategic marketing.

UKIE/IPA Schools programme
The IPA welcomed the Livingstone-Hope Next Gen review of the skills needed for the UK’s video games and visual effects industries, which highlights that computer coding, the most important skill required to create the digital devices and software of the future, is not currently on the curriculum.

IPA apprenticeships
The IPA is working with Skillset to identify five media academies with which to develop apprenticeship partnerships in 2012.

The IPA is also acting as an apprenticeship hub for member agencies, and is promoting apprenticeships with: The National Apprenticeship Skills Council, on the recommendation of the GLA; Social Mobility Foundation; SEO London and Pearson in Practice.

Says Nicola Mendelsohn, IPA President and Executive Chairman, Karmarama: “We cannot afford to be left behind. Attracting the right mix of graduates and new talent is key to the growth of the ad industry in this fast changing digital marketplace, and for stimulating growth in the UK economy as a whole. With these programmes and partnerships we are now putting in place, such as working with top universities, fostering changes to the school curriculum and creating apprenticeship schemes, we can make this happen.”

Says Andy Fennell, Chief Marketing Officer, echoing Nicola’s rallying cry to the industry to adapt to stay ahead: “The golden era for creative industries is ahead, not behind us, but if London agencies are to enjoy their fair share and not lose out to the emerging markets, immediate intervention is necessary. The talent in London is fantastic, but to capitalise on it we must learn to be bold, take risks, invest ahead and behave like challengers.”