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Vacancies down in media agencies, but still above normal levels

Findings from the Media Federation of Australia’s (MFA) annual industry census have revealed that talent churn is continuing to trend downwards, with industry vacancy down to 7.2 per cent in 2023, compared to 8.5 per cent in the previous year.

The vacancy rate appears to be steadily approaching normative levels (6 per cent), after reaching 12.1 per cent in 2021. As of 2020, vacancies sat at only 4.1 per cent.

The data was derived from a survey of the MFA’s member agencies, encompassing the period from October 2022 to September 2023. According to the data, the media industry is on a steady incline, with the overall number of people employed by member agencies growing 2 per cent year-on-year (YoY) from 4,685 to 4,778 as of September 2023.

With the drop in staff turnover, ‘regrettable loss’ dropped to 26 per cent (compared to 32.6 per cent in 2022), while the number of people leaving the industry fell to 12.1 per cent (down from 17.3 per cent). The MFA has a goal of reducing the latter figure to 11 per cent by 2025.

 

If all roles in were to be filled, the potential industry population would be 5,120, with implementation, client service and performance being the most in-demand roles.

Vacancies were most highly concentrated in Sydney (63.7 per cent), followed by Melbourne (26.6 per cent), and then Brisbane (6.7 per cent). These rates were about on par compared to the overall distribution of the media industry, of which 56 per cent are based in Sydney, 28.3 per cent in Melbourne, and 8.1 per cent in Brisbane.

Agency employee tenure has improved slightly, with employees staying with their employers for an average of 2.8 years (up from 2.5 years).

Looking to the industry’s gender distribution, 65 per cent of talent identified as women, compared to only 47 per cent of management roles that were held by women. This was, however, up one point compared to 2022.

The average full-time female salary remains 3 per cent below that of the average male in the media industry, unchanged since 2020. In 2019, the gender pay gap in media agencies was reported to be nil.

In terms of diversity and inclusion, 52 per cent of media agency talent identify as culturally Australian, with North-West European (20 per cent) and Southern and Eastern European (12 per cent) the next most common cultural background, followed by South-East Asian (9 percent), North-East Asian (7 per cent), and Southern and Central Asian (6 per cent).

The census shows 29.58 per cent of media agency employees speak a language other than English at home, while 5.68 per cent are diagnosed with a disability, and 9.4 percent identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Commenting on the census results, MFA director of people, Linda Wong, said: “The MFA Census reflects an industry in great health, with all key metrics showing signs of continued improvement. Over the past five years, we’ve seen a 25% growth in population, which is a remarkable result against the backdrop of economic uncertainty, offshoring and the rise of AI affecting all industries. Also worth mentioning is a notable increase in Analytics and Creative Services roles, showcasing the industry’s adaptability to evolving client needs.

MFA CEO Sophie Madden added: “Showing sustained industry growth and positive movement across so many important metrics, the MFA Census provides proof that agency and industry initiatives are having the desired effect of instilling pride in our people, tackling vacancy rates, and reducing industry churn.

“Notably, the growing number of ‘boomerang’ recruits – individuals returning to the industry – reflects a promising trend. I believe we’re on the right path for more positive change ahead.”

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