Nabs struggles as job crisis mounts

Nabs is being swamped with calls from newly redundant agency staff

and others facing the axe, fuelling fears that the industry is rapidly

shedding jobs in the face of recession.



Staff at the advertising charity are being stretched to the limit

dealing with calls about redundancy-related matters and say they have

seen nothing like it since the economic slump of the early 90s.



The number of calls to Nabs' helpline has risen by almost 60 per cent

over the past six weeks. This is in addition to the redundancy victims

who are already being helped.



Meanwhile, pressures on the Nabs Career Exchange, the charity's fully

equipped office space for job seekers, has become so great that people

wanting to use it are being rationed to two hours a day. Waiting lists

may have to be introduced for the first time.



Nabs chiefs are so worried about the situation that they turned this

week's monthly session of their general management committee into an

emergency session in which almost the entire agenda was given over to

discussing ways of dealing with the crisis.



Now the charity, which normally raises about £1.2 million a year

through corporate donations and events such as its Boxing Night, fears

it could go into the red if it does not receive sustained support.



However, cash-strapped ad agencies are increasingly reluctant to provide

it. A Nabs five-a-side football tournament taking place in two weeks'

time is likely to be much smaller than usual because agencies are

refusing to pay the £500 entry fee.



Carol Reay, the Nabs chairman, said: "Not only are we having to revise

our structure to cope with the demand, we're also having to extend our

fundraising efforts to target operations such as new-media agencies and

design companies."



Kate Harris, the director of Nabs, added: "The industry lost 20 per cent

of its workforce in the last recession and there are real fears it could

happen again. I think things are going to get worse."



She believes the upsurge in its activities is the result of agencies

"battening down the hatches" as the economic storm brews.



Belinda Kent-Lemon, a human resources consultant who specialises in

finding new jobs for displaced agency executives, said: "My phone hasn't

stopped ringing with calls from people of all ages and experience."



She added: "It isn't necessarily because their agencies have lost a

piece of business but because they deem these people expendable.

Everybody is holding their breath in the hope things will pick up after

the summer. The next three weeks are crucial."



Nabs says corporate donations will need to rise if calls on the charity

are to be met. Income from Nabs events has already dropped by a

quarter.



- Feature, p24.