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Manchester focus: Spotlight on the city's marketing industries

Manchester: Going in the right direction

The Drum catches up with a cross-section of Manchester’s digital, creative, PR and recruitment industries to gain insight into what the city offers, the direction of its start-up sector, and what the marketing industries are doing to nurture talent there.

What role do supporting bodies such as MIDAS and Manchester Digital play in developing the creative industries in the city? Andy Poole, director, Weber Shandwick ManchesterOrganisations such as these play an important role in helping Manchester to retain its home grown talent and attract the best talent from other cities. They are responsible for generating investment and enterprise that helps create career opportunities rivalling those on offer in any other UK city. MIDAS in particular was responsible for an economic boost worth around £189m during the last financial year, creating 3,000 jobs along the way. Having the best talent increases the city’s ability to compete on a national and international stage. Christian James, managing director, The If Agency Organisations such as these – along with the likes of the MPA – play a key role in pushing Manchester as a place to do business. The city has changed enormously over the past 10 years, but we still need to do more to attract the best talent and to show potential UK wide clients that using a Manchester-based agency often means working with the most creative minds. It’s important to look to the future and to also have the confidence to shout about why it’s so special. Does Manchester have a strong talent pool? Harriet Sanders, director, CreativesRUsExtremely strong. As with all highly skilled industry sectors, there is often a disparity in supply and demand and Manchester’s design community is no different – we could always have more designers. But compared to Leeds and London, there is a high talent level. The freelance market is particularly strong. Over the past 10 years I have seen an increasing trend of people from the North West moving back from their London explorations, to settle back in the area. This is coupled with fewer people feeling they need to be in London to succeed in this industry. As the companies here increase in quality and influence, so too do the options available to the best talent. If the jobs are here, then the talent will be. And this is increasingly the case. Christian James, managing director, The If AgencyAbsolutely. I’ve worked within the Manchester creative industries for years and I can say with certainty that there’s an abundance of talent across all disciplines. Historically, Manchester has nurtured and drawn creative people which has never stopped. We’re also lucky to have a number of strong universities and colleges in the region that feed the pool. The only thing I would say is that I would like to maybe see more collaboration between industry and the education system to ensure graduates come into the workplace with the right skills. Mike Blackburn, managing director, I-Com International Yes, but not strong enough. We definitely have great talent in Manchester but as the sector is so vibrant and growing so rapidly there isn’t always enough to go around. We are increasingly seeing migrants from Leeds, Liverpool and the Midlands who recognise that Manchester is quickly developing as the north’s creative hub, but there are still a lot of vacancies for people with the right experience. Local universities are playing their part in helping to produce graduates that have the basic skills to get started, but it would be nice to see more schools promoting the sector as potential career choice for their students. What are the marketing industries doing to support Manchester universities and colleges? PK Vaish, managing director, Livelink New Media We’ve recently worked with Manchester Metropolitan Business School to support its ‘Agency Life’ initiative and welcomed six students for a six month period to help them build the right skills to make them ‘work ready’. Initiatives like this are great as they benefit everybody. In the digital world the learning never stops, so I’m a great respecter of education. What’s the start-up scene like in the city? Andy Poole, director, Weber Shandwick Manchester The start-up scene is getting a lot of support and, despite economic uncertainty, is starting to thrive again. European funding and development agencies are creating a climate that is starting to encourage entrepreneurs to take that start-up step. However, confidence in the market is still lacking. Where we would have once seen the bold and brave – so typical of the Manchester’s innovative character – we are seeing the conservative and risk adverse. More can be done at a national level to support start-up ventures. PK Vaish, managing director, Livelink New Media Having not experienced life as a start-up in Manchester city centre, it’s hard to say but I’d imagine that, given the networking opportunities available and the general warmth of the people in the region, it’s pretty good. There are various initiatives available, such as the Manchester Digital Laboratory in the Northern Quarter, where like-minded individuals can drop in, attend free events, grab a desk and work and, essentially make new contacts, which I wish had been around when I was first starting out. There are also start up mentoring programmes available through TIE and several funding programmes based in Manchester. This feature was first published in The Drum's Manchester supplement on 7 June, available for purchase at The Drum Store.Sponsored by:

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