Addressing talent shortage

Bharat: ‘The talents now are also mobile and they move from one country to another easily.’

Effective communication and engagement need to be stepped up

TALENT shortage, one of the dire concerns in the Malaysian media and advertising industry, will continue to persist in the absence of effective communication and engagement.

Many industry leaders agree that effective communication and engagement with talents should be stepped up in order to attract them to join the media and advertising industry.

At the moment, they say this initiative is still lacking. Commenting on the talent shortage, Asian Federation of Advertising Associations (AFAA) chief knowledge officer Bharat Avalani says: “The advertising and media industry in Malaysia and elsewhere in the region has not been able to attract talents as they did in the past. This is because the industry is not doing enough to communicate and engage with the talents.

“The talents now are also mobile and they move from one country to another easily. There is also a disparity in salaries in the region. Country that pays less tend to loose out. The advertising industry needs to be as proactive as the banking and accounting sectors as well as the fast-moving consumer goods segment to seek the brightest graduates.”

In an interview with StarBizWeek, Bharat adds that the advertising industry often struggles because the job roles and routes are not as obvious as the banking, medical or accountancy professions. Beyond the TV show Mad Men, there is little genuine understanding among young people as to the roles available for them in media, marketing and advertising, he notes.

From strategists and planners to sales teams, designers and post-production, he says the variety of roles simply is not obvious from an outsider perspective.

“Additionally, those who do aspire to a career in advertising often consult lists of the top biggest ad agencies and work hard to get in through the graduate programmes run by these bigger companies. It’s an approach that means the majority of smaller agencies tend to miss out.

“On the flipside, if we look to those more classic professions like accountancy, you will find that organisations such as ACA and CIMA work hard to promote careers in that sector and put a lot of effort into early engagement,’’ Bharat says.

This should be a wake-up call to all agencies, he says, noting that opening the doors early will not only enable the right talent to get some experience, but also the graduates that one takes on board are a more committed lot.

He says it is also about looking outside of the graduate pool and connecting with the 18-year-olds that are keen to get some experience under their belt and start work as soon as possible.

Offering work experience and apprenticeships as other industries have done, he says, will also help bring in talent that otherwise may stay untapped.

Founded in 1978, AFAA has representations in 15 Asian nations with its primary objectives to unify all Asian associations involved in the various aspects of advertising and to upgrade the standards, ethics and practices of advertising in the region.

In a move to develop and supercharge young talents of the communication and marketing industries, AFAA has recently initiated FastTrack for the fourth year.

“FastTrack is a professional excellence programme that is designed to inspire from within and give young talents a boost as well as connect them with key leaders of the industry that they can be mentored by,” says Bharat.

Held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian participants were joined by their counterparts from Taiwan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

The programme modules focus on personal growth and practical skills training that culminates in a presentation to a panel of esteemed judges. Participants were taken through a journey of self-discovery to acquire insights into their character, reassess their skills and passions in order to propel them forward in their careers.

“What sets this programme apart from other trainings in the industry is how we have incorporated the experiential methodology to inspire deeper learnings. We designed this programme for AFAA with the aim of nurturing each and every participant in becoming extraordinary professional leaders and go further than they ever dreamt possible,” says AFAA chairman Raymond So.

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