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The Role of Communications to Increase, Reveals Research

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The Role of Communications to Increase, Reveals Research

A recent report by VMA GROUP Africa found that the South African communications landscape is an increasingly in-sourced function, where the skills of the in house communicator are becoming crucial for service delivery...

Over half (52%) of respondents stated that they do not outsource any work to agencies, with the balance outsourcing between 25% and 100% of the communication function.

VMA GROUP Africa, collected data from senior communication practitioners around salary, spend, recruitment patterns, growth plans and skills development.

Says Daniel Munslow, Principal Consultant for VMA GROUP Africa, "The communication landscape is constantly evolving, and to ensure we are able to offer the right training and recruitment solutions, one must engage with the marketplace and hear the voice of the community. This survey shows that communication practitioners are shifting to a more advisory function in business, where measurement, strategy development, and business optimisation are securing a seat for the communication function at the board."

African expansion
Over 40% of respondents said that their companies were looking to expand the communications function into other key African locations including Windhoek, Gaborone, Lagos, Accra and Nairobi. Despite a tough economic climate and low GDP growth, just over 60% of organisations are looking at expanding their comms teams within the next two years.

This is underlined by VMA GROUP's European offices' research where 40% of global organisations said that they already operated in Africa and a further 6% indicating that geographical expansion would be most likely into Africa.

Skill shortages
A quarter of respondents felt that skills shortages were a key concern and almost half (49%) felt that creative and strategic thinking development in order to identify business priorities and build the strategic framework was a key priority. Other skills development areas included employee engagement, change management, the use of technology and influencing skills.

Recruitment & careers
Interestingly 1 out of 5 respondents (20%) said that their top method for finding a new role remains through the use of recruitment consultancies. Over half (55%) of jobseekers took under three months to complete their job search - a reflection of the local economy where vacancies requiring specific skills are quick to fill.

In terms of motivations to move job, 45% moved due to enhanced career development opportunities - only 14% moved for a higher salary alone. Interestingly, 40% of respondents had become incumbent in their current position through a recruitment consultancy.

"In terms of career development, 60% of our respondents noted that are spending more in 2015 than they did in 2014 on internal skills development. This is not surprising, when 25% say the single most important challenge is the shortage of skills in the industry. 49% of respondents said they felt they and their teams could benefit from training on strategic skills, with 1 out of 3 communicators saying they needed more training to support the leadership communication function. 27% said writing skills needed improving, and 24% indicated they needed to improve their business acumen skills", says Munslow.

Looking ahead
Overall, it appears that South African Communicators are very positive with almost 60% feeling that the role of communications is likely to increase in their businesses within the next two years. This supports the premise that communications plays a strategic role across a number of business critical areas such as reputation management, internal communication and leadership training.

For more information about VMA GROUP's industry leading research into the communications, digital and marketing landscape, please contact us at Our latest reports can be found here.