Advertising and marketing professionals near the start of their careers are facing a dearth of opportunities, according to Aquent.

The industry recruiter said the industry was experiencing a “junior job market crisis”, with the number of junior hires having fallen 29%. This comes at the end of a year in which many employers, including the major holding companies, have been forced to make redundancies to help navigate unprecedented business pressures.

Aquent said the lack of hiring also reflected the difficulty of onboarding new staff when most people are expected to work from home, and many businesses' resources are stretched to capacity. These factors have meant hiring for junior roles was simply not “viable”, it said.

Aliza Sweiry, UK managing director at Aquent, said: “This year has been extremely tough for the creative industries as Covid-19 continues to have a huge impact on business. Unfortunately, this has been felt most severely by junior talent looking to make their mark on the industry, who are now really struggling to find entry-level positions. 

“Unless companies begin hiring junior roles again soon, it’s likely that this could have a serious knock-on to the future of team structures in the years to come.

The data comes as part of Aquent’s 2021 salary guide, which gives a mixed picture – with a number of roles seeing significant salary growth over the last year. These include some junior roles, such as art directors, digital and graphic designers (all up 14%) – but one of the biggest increases is for senior motion graphics designers (up 24%).

An area of salary growth in most roles and levels is user experience, with a UX strategist or lead now able to expect a salary of £100,000 – up 21% year on year – while a junior UX designer can expect £45,000, up 17%. 

Aquent said the increases for UX roles reflected a growing demand for these skills as a result of this year’s surge in eCommerce and time spent in digital environments. It added that health writers had also become “hot property” as a result of the growing interest in public health prompted by the pandemic. 

“While salaries have stagnated overall, it is promising to see is that the creative industries are performing well and are still taking on new staff,” Sweiry continued.