FRONT PAGE: Rise in hiring of graduates in PR industry

Graduate recruitment levels have significantly increased at most of the UK's largest agencies, as the industry continues to buck recession trends.

Graduates: recruitment up
Graduates: recruitment up

In one of the clearest indications that the PR industry is equipped to ride the impending economic storm, nine of the top ten agencies in the UK by fee income have hired a total of 85 graduates so far in 2008, compared with 64 last year.

Agencies with bigger consumer offerings, such as Weber Shandwick, Freud Communications and Edelman, showed the biggest increase in graduate recruitment levels. Across the financial sector hiring remained largely flat, with agencies perhaps feeling the affects of a waning M&A and IPO market.

Ketchum was the only top ten agency to buck the trend, dropping to four from 20 last year.
Ketchum HR director Sarah Barrett said: ‘The agency doesn't operate an official graduate training programme other than the PRWeek and Ketchum James Maxwell Award.

And as we have witnessed strong staff retention this year there haven't been as many roles open to fill in 2008 for graduate places. In addition, driven by client needs, we have shifted our recruitment to more mid-level hires.'

The news comes in a week when mortgage approvals hit fresh lows, the Ernst & Young Item Club said economy would grow by only one per cent next year and figures confirmed UK jobless levels are rising.

PRCA comms manager Richard Ellis said: ‘We might see a slight slowdown in the rate of growth over the next 12 months, but consultancies are looking to the future and seeing that PR is continuing to be a growth area. Agencies realise they need to keep recruiting good staff to avoid another shortage of account managers and account directors.'

CIPR head of professional policy Dawn Chapman said: ‘The growth in graduate recruitment is a good reflection of the quality of PR degrees now available and graduates. The CIPR runs an increasing number of approved degree courses, all of which combine the latest theory and practice, thereby producing new recruits who can hit the ground running and who answer employer needs.'


TABLE: TOP TEN UK AGENCIES

Bell Pottinger Group - 9 (8)
Brunswick - 8 (8)
FD - 7 (6)
*Weber Shandwick 22 (11)
Citigate Dewe Rogerson - 4 (3)
Hill & Knowlton - 8 (8)
Edelman - 13 (11)
Freud Communications - 11 (7)
Finsbury - 3 (2)
Ketchum - 4 (20)

*Includes Golin Harris.

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