our belief in the power of commercial creativity is our heartbeat, then
talent is our lifeblood - and the Prime Minister's changes to the 457
visa program has brought this to the fore this week in an unparalleled
Firstly though, the notion that we in this country don't
possess a strong pool of talent is just wrong. On any international
measure - the Gunn Report, Cannes, WARC - we regularly punch above our
weight ranking in the top 5 or 6 in the world despite being 13th when
measured on GDP. Our home grown creative talent fills the most demanding
roles on every continent as our brilliant advertising skills, strong
work ethic and ability to cut through the bullshit sets us apart.
recognised the need for local talent development as far back as 1982
when AWARD chairman Ray Black announced the urgency of a program like
AWARD School, as the industry was not growing enough writers and art
directors to meet the needs of agencies.
Aspiring copywriters and
art directors were bred in what he called 'the fetid swamps and
dangerous backrooms of the print production departments' before
graduating to despatch rooms and eventually creative departments.
killed off the despatch room, creating a shortage in young talent and
'the introduction of another foreign, introduced species; like the
rabbit - the English Art Director' as Ray noted.
AWARD School was born.
Degrees don't make careers - talent development does
days we seem preoccupied by a degree from a relevant tertiary education
institution as a mandatory to any role in advertising yet there is no
guarantee this will lead to success. Advertising is not a spectator
sport: it is a participation sport involving collision, high impact,
being on the field in all kinds of conditions, and being match fit to
So despite an impeccable education, it's only when you get
on the field that you know if you're any good. That's why initiatives
that are built by the industry, for the industry work, and why our AWARD
School and Graduate Program have proven successful for over 35 years at
unearthing the next generation of quality talent.
of local talent continues to amaze me. We had 560 applications for AWARD
School this year and you only have to talk to any of the lecturers or
tutors to understand the unbridled enthusiasm in this years cohort.
Fittingly, the top student will head off to New York to meet the top
student 30 years ago - David Droga.
The balance of local and global
Yet however successful AWARD School has been, we have always relied on importing the right people to cover the skill gaps.
contribution to the success of Australian advertising cannot be
underestimated - yes, even those 'rabbits' Ray mentioned. And out of
that multicultural incubator a strong industry emerged.
influence of the contrast between The Palace's Lionel Hunt and Ron
Mather and the local larrikins, Mo and Jo cannot be underestimated.
recently, agencies have bolstered local talent by importing the very
best to ensure we remain at the cutting edge of the digital age by
leveraging data, analytics, CRM, social, technologists, UX architects
and many other emerging disciplines.
We don't know yet the full
impact of the Turnbull Government's decision to change the 457 visa
program. But one thing is certain - agencies must place a stronger focus
on developing local talent if we as an industry want to continue to
deliver what we have become renowned for.
Equally, we must ensure
we retain the right to supplement our skills gaps with the best
overseas has to offer. The blend of local and international talent that
has served us so well must be protected and we must unite as an industry
to ensure the incubator is maintained.