Charlie Rudd: Young talent can be the stars of today as well as tomorrow

By Charlie Rudd, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 01 December 2011 08:00AM

Like everyone else, I found it depressing to read that youth unemployment hit a near-record of 1.02 million in the last quarter.

Charlie Rudd is the managing director of Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Charlie Rudd is the managing director of Bartle Bogle Hegarty

I remember how hard it was to find a job in advertising, and that was back in the good times. I'd really struggle in 2011. I thank God my kids are not old enough to need jobs right now.

For an industry that is solely reliant on talent, it amazes me how lazy it has been at attracting it.

Many of today's ad bosses grew up in a time when advertising was highly attractive as a long-term career option. Today, we're simply not as competitive with other industries, neither financially, nor in terms of work/life balance. We can't assume that talent will find us. Surprisingly, the industry has stuck with the same approaches to youth employment that served us so well in the boom times.

As an industry, and I include Bartle Bogle Hegarty in this, we need to be better at reaching out to find interesting young talent. In part, we have a moral responsibility to do so but, critically, it will make our work better. We have so much to learn about new and future communication channels, and young people have many of the answers.

The value equation for hiring young people has never looked so good; no longer is there the long apprenticeship waiting for young talent to contribute, they can now give great contributions from day one.

At BBH, we believe the more interesting our talent inputs, the more interesting our outputs. Of course, this includes social, ethnic and national backgrounds, but also age. So we've disbanded our very successful but narrow graduate recruitment programme for a more wide-reaching youth internship initiative, BBH Homegrown (www.bbhhomegrown.co.uk). It's not rocket science as an approach, but it is giving us access to different people many of whom would never have considered a career in advertising before.

Offering work, even if it is only for three months, gives invaluable CV-building material to help people find permanent jobs. Who knows, we may even unearth world-class talent that would never have made it to us before.

Agencies such as McCann Manchester and Shine Communications, with their apprenticeship programmes, should be applauded and copied. And, of course, Nicola Mendelsohn has made this issue central to her IPA presidency. Let's get behind her and collectively make a difference.

For me personally, one of the joys of 2011 has been how well our young stars have done at BBH, many of them interns. From writing the new Barnardo's and Yeo Valley campaigns to devising a digital campaign to raise money for an 89-year-old Tottenham barber whose shop was destroyed in the riots. We gave them a chance and they didn't let us down.

Charlie Rudd is the managing director of Bartle Bogle Hegarty London

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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