Skilling the sector for the market
Newly appointed chair of the board of directors at the AAA School of Advertising, Marella O’Reilly, has a firm vision of what she needs to achieve during her tenure. O’Reilly replaces Nkwenkwe Nkomo, the former chairman of the ACA board of directors, who was later elected to chair the AAA. O’Reilly, who has served on the AAA board since 2006, has a realistic concept of the role the school plays in the industry.
In a depressed economy, marketing budgets are the first to go, which has the knock-on effect of stifling industry growth. O’Reilly says the AAA has an important contribution to make in terms of skilling the sector to serve the current economy, which means training graduates to offer through-the-line services to clients so that agencies are able to maximise their earnings. It’s also a time when agencies should be investing in skills development and training. “Education performs a critical role in ensuring that the sector remains relevant, not only within the SA context, but in the international arena too,” O’Reilly says.
The AAA, which is wholly owned by the ACA, takes its mandate of delivering top talent to the industry very seriously. “Students attend lectures by captains of industry, which means they’re given a real view of what’s happening in the sector. We update our curriculum on an ongoing basis in consultation with the profession to ensure that the content is relevant and moulds raw talent into skilled talent able to hit the ground running in the workplace,” she says.
A major part of O’Reilly’s mandate is to ensure that the higher education institution is at the cutting edge of industry development. The AAA therefore plans to launch additional programmes during 2016 and 2017 aimed at enabling the school to continue attracting the right talent pool and promoting careers across the profession. “We’re also looking to expand our part-time courses for all facets of the industry and at all levels of the profession,” O’Reilly adds.
Encouraging lifelong learning among alumni is another priority, geared towards ensuring that digital developments are integrated seamlessly with traditional strategies. “We’re very clear that the AAA must remain relevant and on top of the digital movement, which means that continuous learning needs to be promoted for new graduates and alumni alike,” she says.
Transformation is also high on the agenda, and while O’Reilly believes the sector is doing a good job in this regard, there is always room for improvement. The AAA’s Foundation Programme is being introduced in July 2016 to ensure there are no barriers to entering the industry. “We also plan to launch an affordable Higher Certificate Programme next year that will create greater access to tertiary education for previously disadvantaged individuals who cannot afford the costs of a three-year degree or diploma programme. Ultimately, it’s our job to contribute to the transformation of the profession, and our Foundation Programme will enable us to do this.”
The big take-out: Marella O’Reilly, the newly appointed chair of the board of directors of the AAA, says her priorities are skilling the sector for the economy, remaining at the cutting edge of the digital age and facilitating transformation.
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