It’s no secret that ad talent is in short supply, globally. But the Advertising Media Association of South Africa is trying to address the issue through its learnership programme, which is now open for 2012 intern applications.
The AMASA Learnership Programme (ALP) portfolio manager, Ryan Williams, says they look for many different qualities in the chosen interns, “insatiable curiosity” being one of them. “The person should be fascinated by how people think, buy, consume. They should study human nature and possess analytical skills too, as understanding data is vital,” Williams says.
“Plus, they have to have a passion for the business because remuneration structures are under strain, they have to work long hours and develop a thick skin as they have take abuse some days. Self confidence is important; shy people don’t cut it,” he says.
The ALP is structured so that top media companies employ interns who are mentored by senior staff with years of hands-on experience. They will are also enrolled into the AAA School of Advertising’s media module and media planning workshop. AMASA and the partner companies train ALP interns jointly, with each intern receiving a six-month remunerated contract with a host company.
As AMASA says, its “core focus” is on finding and retaining “bright young minds” and keeping them in the media industry. “There are issues around finding and retaining ad talent. It’s a worldwide issue,” says Williams.
“The influence of procurement means the our industry is increasingly price obsessed and client-driven, and that drives revenues down. Effectively, we’re working harder for less money so agencies reflect that trend. I think the other area is that we don’t market career opportunities in media effectively enough, and that’s something we’re addressing at AMASA,” he says.
Williams says they need to “dial up on the stats and research” and perhaps cast their net wider than at present. “We should be looking at the academic world, perhaps finding B.Comm students or stats students who are fascinated by research and to whom money isn’t the major force in their lives. Perhaps there are people like that out there…” he says, hopefully.
The ALP merges two disciplines: a theoretical course plus real world experience. It’s a system that works, says Williams, as to date “not one ALP intern has dropped out”.
“The ALP gives them a foot in the door. The host company is invested in them as they’re involved in the recruitment process and take part in a connective interview. So it’s a mutual investment, and there’s a sense of obligation on both sides to make it work,” he says.
Still, he says, there’s not enough mentoring going on. “With the skills drain, it means that work is delegated upwards and senior people are seriously overloaded. Agencies are running lean to the bone with no extra resources. But we do need to find the time, to set aside an hour a day, to mentor entrants into the industry,” says Williams.
AMASA’s chairperson, Lyn Jones, says the ALP is “our core reason for being, enabling us to deliver against our primary mandate of driving media education”.
“Simultaneously,” she says, “the ALP assists in curbing the talent shortage from an agency perspective.”
The ALP is open to any candidates with a tertiary qualification however preference will be given to graduates who have higher grade maths, BComm, marketing, statistics and research qualifications.
Application forms to be downloaded from http://www.amasa.org.za/burseryfund.php completed and submitted without supporting documentation to AmasaALP@gmail.com by no later than 31 March 2012. Selected candidates should be available to commence employment in early May 2012.