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Advertising agencies (creative, media, direct marketing, digital, sponsorship, specialist agencies etcetera) are core to the advertising industry and are firmly positioned within the ‘creative industries’, alongside architecture, design, fashion and computer services. Advertising contributes £1.11 billion to the UK economy. Careers in advertising can be divided into:

  • Creative careers, which include jobs in copywriting and art direction/graphic design
  • Commercial careers, which involve planning the advertising strategy and an analysis of markets and targets. Media management and market research are the main strands here

New technologies have led to the proliferation of different media advertising opportunities and new markets are emerging. These changes have led agencies to set up specialist services working alongside favoured specialist suppliers or training their existing staff to understand and deliver a broader spread of communications tools. For instance, digital and interactive media are growing in importance.

Key statistics:

  • There are 21,455 people working in advertising, this number has declined by 19% since 2006.
  • There are 345 businesses, of which 7% employ less than 5 people and 64% employ more than 20 people.
  • 17% of the workforce is self-employed and 17% is employed part-time.
  • 56% of the workforce is male.
  • Women in the industry are generally more highly qualified than men (53% have an above level 4 qualification as their highest qualification compared with 50% of men).
  • Women are likely to earn less money than men (79% of women in advertising earn less than £20,000 per annum, compared to 33% of men).
  • 92% of the advertising workforce is white.
  • 65% of the workforce is under the age of 40 and 21% is aged between 25-29 years
  • 6% of the workforce has a below Level 2 qualification (GCSE level).
  • Staff turnover in the industry is high.

It is not always necessary to have a degree for entry into advertising, but having relevant qualifications and experience will improve employment opportunities, especially for higher paid job roles. 52% of the workforce has a level 4 or higher qualification (which is equivalent to a degree and above). Technical/specialist roles may require specific qualifications and/or experience, but some employers offer training. Advertising agencies demand creativity from everyone.

Recruitment methods tend to be informal and a number of those looking for opportunities in advertising begin with undertaking low-paid or unpaid placements. There are opportunities for those wishing to change career, as formal qualifications are not always required.

Creative and IT roles are reported to be most difficult to fill, which is linked to growing digital and interactive media. Management and leadership skills are most sought after in new recruits to the industry. The three key skills that employers feel are lacking in their staff, include: IT; sales; and management skills. Future skills needs are focused on: communication planning; IP and the ownership of ideas; organisation and logistics; plus management and leadership.

Source: Skillsfast-UK AACS LMI report 2010