Boosting standards – CommsCouncil to revamp strategy

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 2 September 2015

The Communications Council is looking to boost its continued professional development (CPD) program by building its current four brands of training into one overarching framework.

The industry body offers four different training program depending on career stage: Graduate Program, AdSchool, AwardSchool and IPA.

At a Communications Council event in Sydney last night, CEO Tony Hale said that CPD is “the standard path” for most industries – including lawyers, accountants and financial advisors – as part of a way to ensure individuals are reaching professional standards.

“There is an evolving focus on developing a continued professional development program. Lots of different industries have one and we're looking at one in the moment – we're in the first sort of stages of developing that,” Hale said.

“Having those four brands is obviously a little bit confusing, but now what we want to do is build those four brands into a continuing professional development framework.

“So as you come into the industry from year dot, it take you through to 10+ years, so it requires a bit of a gap analysis.”

Hale said that the development of a CPD program here would be partly based on the UK model from the IPA and as part of that it has looked to see what business motives there are for bringing in a CPD framework.

In a panel discussion, Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Mike Rebelo said that part of the strength of the UK model is the accreditation systems, which means agencies need to continue to invest in CPD to keep that market quality and assurance.

“That’s a really big driving force in the industry in the UK,” Rebelo said. “It helps safe guard and it does help keep and protect investment into professional development.

“What we're all dealing with at the moment is clients wanting more for less and it's continually that conversation happening year on year.

“The question how do you do more with less and that’s where training and investment into your team is one of the ways to try and do more with less: you can try and up-skill, you can give broader remits, and bigger scope to individuals if you've given them the tools to take on those additional tasks.”

M&C Saatchi chief strategy officer Justin Graham said that with agencies competing with a broader set of services – including management consultants and design agencies - for client business, training is a key piece of investment.

“We're not just talking to other agencies that we're competing against, we're competing against a whole bunch of other people now,” Graham said.

“If you look at what makes those other industries brilliant it's a commitment to long term training, and training that exists as part of their roles.

“It's absolutely commercial [aspects of the business] that is driving that because it's a major recruitment vehicles and its an ongoing piece of investment to make.”

Hale pointed to a recent IPA study which looked at 155 agencies in the UK and found that the more CPD hours logged by the business, the bigger the growth. For small agencies which dedicated 500 hours to CPD, 60% of them showed 10% or more growth. For mid level the number went to 80% and 15% growth and for larger agencies, logging roughly 3000 hours of CPD, 80% of them saw between 5-15% growth.

“One of the problems we've got with this industry in Australia is that whenever you talk about training or professional development it seems to be couched in negative terms,” Hale said. “It's about costs, time out of the office and developing a proper plan.

“What is not in this discussion is the benefits, because the benefits are harder to quantify but it's obviously about improved performance as individuals and as a business, loyalty of people and becoming a preferred employer – one of choice – in order to attract better staff. These are hidden benefits but harder to quantify.”

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