Junior Job Market ‘Crisis’ – Hiring Of Industry Hopefuls Grinds To A Halt

Monday, January 4, 2021
  • Junior job market ‘crisis’ as companies freeze the hiring of industry hopefuls
  •  UX roles and health writers become ‘golden ticket’ jobs making them the industry’s ‘most wanted’
  •  Wages flat-line as UK advertisers pull more than £1.1bn spend during Covid lockdown
  •  Influx of C-suite level candidates as roles are consolidated in the wake of the pandemic
  • Employers struggle to keep hold of top talent as 88 percent admit they are actively seeking or would accept a new role

HR professionals working in the creative industries have now been given a glimpse into their potential earnings following the release of 2021 salary guide figures from marketing and creative recruiter, Aquent.

The data, which has been compiled from 2020 UK placements, has revealed that the industry is currently experiencing a ‘junior job market crisis’ as the fallout from Covid-19 continues to freeze the hiring of industry hopefuls.

The lack of hiring reflects the situation many businesses now find themselves in. Staff adapting to the day-to-day of working from home and employees still on the extended furlough scheme has left resources stretched to capacity.

This has left little time to train and nurture those entering the industry, meaning the hiring of junior roles is no longer a viable option. Instead, employers are on the hunt for candidates that can ‘hit the ground running’ and need less support and training when starting a new role.

However, it’s feared the lull in junior roles will create a ‘blackhole’ of talent in the years to come, making what roles are available, highly contested. This comes in stark contrast to last year’s findings which showed that junior roles experienced an average pay increase of 7 per cent.

The good news is that, despite wages stagnating overall, the creative industry is still looking to hire. This paints a promising picture for more senior candidates, particularly those working in the world of design/creative, as companies look to expertise to help them navigate a difficult marketplace.

Senior motion graphics experts have seen some of the highest increases overall (24 percent), whilst senior art directors have seen an uplift in pay (15 percent) as well as digital designers (13 percent).

Aquent’s research also found that a whopping 88 per cent of workers are actively seeking or are open to finding a job this year, despite the economic downturn. It also found that 50 per cent of those polled are looking to leave their jobs in the next three to six months. This presents a challenge for employers who can no longer be complacent when it comes to staff retention and must do everything they can in order to cling on to valued staff.

Lower wage increases are largely due to the huge drop in advertising spend caused by the pandemic. The postponing of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics dealt a significant blow, whilst other sporting events, such as the delay to the UEFA Euro 2020 also proved devastating. In addition, many advertisers have paused or have pulled their ad campaigns creating economic turmoil.

As a result, it’s estimated that UK advertisers have pulled £1.1bn[1] worth of ad spend during the Covid lockdown alone, causing wages to flat-line. It’s saving grace has been in the form of Government spending which saw around £100 million[2] spent on public health messaging during the grips of Covid-19.

On the other side of the coin, digital advertising has seen a surge in online spend. In Q3 alone, it’s estimated that social media spend in the UK increased by 43 percent [3], as brands looked to take advantage of audiences trapped in lockdown. The likes of Google and Facebook have also benefited seeing an increase in digital ad spend as brands look to solidify their presence online.

This has meant that UX designers have become vital to companies as online shopping continues to drive consumer spending habits. This has also been reflected in feedback from senior executives who took part in the study which found that 81per cent are “banking on customer experience for growth”.

Surprisingly, despite the switch to content and the move away from advertising, not all content writers have seen such demand.

Senior copy editors have seen wages slashed by around 20 per cent and 17 percent and 20 percent respectively for mid and senior web editors. Web editor roles overall are falling out of favour in replacement of head of content positions, with a pay decrease of 8 percent compared to 2020 figures.

The same can be said for senior brand management roles who have experienced a decrease in wages of 7 percent over a six-year period and senior content strategists who have seen a pay rise of just £5,000 over the same time frame, representing a pay decrease in line with inflation.

However, this has been a different story for health writers who have now become ‘hot property’ in the wake of the pandemic. Employers are looking for those with extensive healthcare knowledge to help cater to the growing interesting in public health, making them some of the industry’s most sought-after candidates.

For employers, 2020 proved advantageous in terms of acquiring skilled employees despite a rocky economy. An influx of C-level candidates has allowed for multiple roles to become consolidated and allowed employers to receive ‘more bang for their buck’.

Employers have also found that applicants are more willing to accept lower rates and take on a wider range of responsibilities as part of their remit.

Aliza Sweiry, UK managing director, Aquent, comments“2020 has been extremely tough for the creative industries as Covid-19 continues to have a huge impact on business. Unfortunately, this has been felt most severely by junior talent looking to make their mark on the industry, who are now really struggling to find entry-level positions. Unless companies begin hiring junior roles again soon, it’s likely that this could have a serious knock-on to the future of team structures in the years to come.

“Whilst salaries have stagnated overall, it is promising to see that the creative industries are performing well and are still taking on new staff. This is a particularly good time for the likes of senior designers, health writers and those working in e-commerce as spending habits become more online focused.

“Employers are on the lookout for skills that can enhance their customer and end user experience so now is the time for these candidates to step up and potentially bag themselves a dream role.”