Arun Sudhaman 09 Dec 2011 // 12:12PM GMT
Amid the current negativity surrounding the UK PR industry, it is nice to see some positive developments that look likely to bring lasting benefits. The industry's first apprenticeship scheme, announced yesterday by the PRCA and Pearson in Practice, cannot come soon enough. At the recent PRCA national conference I noted that, according to our research, the biggest concern among UK agency heads is the talent crunch. Not only is it the biggest concern (ahead of such things as economic conditions and margin pressure) but the level of concern in the UK far outstrips all other regions. Put simply, the UK seems to have a critical issue in sourcing and developing agency executives. Part of this is down to traditional factors that have long bedevilled the PR profession: competition for talented graduates from other industries, and a difficulty in importing higher-level talent from other walks of life. I suspect it is also because the skills required of PR executives are changing, calling for proficiency in such areas as digital, data, planning and newer types of content. A bonafide apprenticeship scheme can only help this state of affairs, funding firms to better develop the next generation of PR leaders. Significantly, it should also help address the glaring lack of diversity in the UK’s PR sector. In fact, I would probably suggest that other countries could do much worse than study this particular idea and see if it can be adapted to work in their own markets. I'd also love to hear of similar schemes that are in place elsewhere. In a similar vein, another initiative worth supporting is the ‘PR Prom’, which is designed to raise funds for Bright One, the volunteer-run communications agency for the third sector that provides PR assistance to charities across the country. The event itself will offer PR pros the chance to vote their colleagues up for various awards, and is priced to better attract the younger members of the industry. Again, it’s a nice idea that can only help build a better grassroots community among PR people. Kudos to the organisers.