Grant Blackley: “Attracting Talent To The SCA Business Is Becoming Increasingly Difficult”

Grant Blackley (CEO & Managing Director, Southern Cross Austereo) at Radio Alive 2017

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) boss Grant Blackley has confirmed a simmering issue in Australia’s media landscape – a distinct lack of talent, which is ultimately holding back investment and opportunities for media companies and their clients.

Speaking to B&T following the release of SCA’s end-of-year financials yesterday, Blackley said the media company – which employs 3500 people across its radio, digital and TV assets – was struggling to fill vital roles primarily bought about by COVID restrictions.

Blackley’s comments mirror a number of other media bosses current struggles with recruitment.

A CEO of a major media company telling B&T last week it had 20 vacant positions it couldn’t fill. Tech-focused agencies have also revealed finding programmers or other highly-sepcialised roles is nigh on impossible, namely due to overseas candidates being shut out by border closures

“We are finding it increasingly difficult to attract new talent to the business,” Blackley revealed. “SCA principally retained our workforce during 2020 and that was due to JobKeeper and other structural things we did in the business and that made us more effective and efficient.

“But our needs are changing and the future dollars are in digital audio. To that end, we’re looking at new capabilities that require new skills and experience.

“And I don’t doubt that everyone else is doing exactly the same thing as we are.

“We’re seeing a definite shortage in technologists; people who can build and support our AI initiatives and that’s why we’re trying to bring those learnings in-house. The second area would be around content.

“We no longer just have 99 radio stations. We’ve now got 92 weekly podcasts and that takes up a studio, an operator and a curator and a producer, and that’s what’s required to assist in producing that content. And then you need people who are very focused on monetising that via either traditional or programmatic means,” Blackley said.

The other problem, Blackley identified, was that COVID had made many people increasingly jittery about job security, meaning they’d prefer to stay with their current employer than risk a move to somewhere new.

Blackley describing it as a “psychological” issue.

“If you’re currently employed in a role, you’re enjoying that role and a recruiter says would you like to come to us? And during lockdown you’re thinking I’ve got a regular income, I enjoy where I am and I’m not willing to take a step today but please come back to me in three or four months time.

“And again, the other problem is our peers and our competitors are looking for those exact same people,” Blackley concluded.

 

 




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