Editorial: Adland has to continue to attract the top talent

"Talent crisis", "talent shortage" or "talent drought" are all phrases bandied about adland with alarming regularity. For the UK advertising industry to retain its world-beating status, the shortage of upcoming, young talent is an issue that needs some serious attention.

It seems that there are problems at every level of seniority within the UK industry. Although there are still enough high-calibre graduates applying for jobs in adland, the industry's allure is showing some signs of fading. The very best graduates might be tempted by the much-higher salaries being offered by the City. Others appear to be showing more of an interest in what they believe are more "ethical" career options. (Where have all the graduates gone? Page 24).

And they're a fickle bunch; many of those now applying for jobs in advertising don't see it as a career decision, but rather as a "next job". In addition, some of those who do enter the business become disillusioned after a few years, often taking the skills they've learned and moving client-side. The seeming lack of senior jobs for the over-50s in advertising can make it appear to be a bit of a short-term career option as well.

And then, right at the very top of the tree, there are also signs of a talent exodus. Some of advertising's most talented leaders - Michael Wall, Jim Kelly, Steve Harrison, among others - are all shunning the big network jobs, preferring to bide their time until a more interesting and engaging alternative appears.

Traditionally, the UK advertising industry has been such a talent magnet that its practitioners have been more intelligent, more business savvy and more engaging than the clients sitting across the table from them. That, after all, is why the business community outsources most of its communications needs. Adland must do whatever it takes to make sure that it continues to offer access to talent that its clients can't live without.