Where are the skills gaps in the publishing industry? [Part 2 – INTERVIEW]
Following on from Seonaid MacLeod’s popular post on ‘skills gaps in the publishing industry’, here we have an interview with, Stephanie Hall, Resourcing Manager at HarperCollins. Stephanie will be speaking at ‘Transferable skills in creative industries‘ on 19th August.
1. Prior to working at HarperCollins, you worked at Atwood Tate (publishing recruitment) for nearly 3 years. This experience shows that you really understand the needs of hiring managers in publishing. Where do you think the skills gap currently lies?
I think it really depends on the type of job, the area of the business and the level of seniority but generally, as our business (and the industry) shifts more and more towards digital, we’re in need of people who have a good understanding of the various platforms for distribution and the different ways in which we can seed content out into the marketplace for consumers to discover. We also really need new skills in content marketing, and in building brands via new channels like vlogging and podcasting (HarperCollins plug: We have an amazing podcast which you can find here: https://soundcloud.com/bookdpodcast
) We need people who are skilled in building online communities and who are data driven. Now that we have access to so much data so quickly, it’s important that we have people who can use that information to influence internally and inform future strategies.
2. How easy do you think it is for publishing professionals to gain new skills and change roles?
I think it’s very possible if they’re willing. Ultimately, in order to stay in publishing, everyone needs to be adaptable and flexible – it’s changing so rapidly that the roles that you have at the beginning of your career almost certainly won’t serve the same purpose to the business by the time you reach the middle of your career! I do think that people need to be proactive about brushing up on their skills and throwing themselves into new ways of working – that adaptability will be recognised and rewarded when new roles are created.
3. In your role at HarperCollins, how do you advise staff to think about future proofing the skills of the workforce?
We have a brilliant L&D programme which is tailored to the business based on feedback from our people, so we’re providing them with the skills that not only we think they need, but they tell us would be useful for their roles.
We also really encourage interaction between the divisions and departments as much as possible. Earlier this year we moved into new offices which are completely open plan and spread over two floors (rather than four as we were in Hammersmith) to aid collaboration and encourage our brilliant staff to share their ideas with each other. HarperCollins really values innovation so we encourage departments to learn from each other daily to build skills in new areas.
Finally, we have a job shadowing scheme so people can spend time in other departments, learning what they do and gaining skills in new areas that they can take back to their own roles and teams.
4. What do you think are the best ways to gain new expertise?
By being open to trying new ways of working and being proactive about learning new things. Try using new platforms and products in your own time (create a tumblr account or start listening to podcasts) – you’ll absorb lots of skills that you can apply to your job without even realising it! Asking someone to show you how they’re doing something is usually a good way to learn too.
Hopefully it’ll be a chance to hear directly from employers about how to future-proof your career, which is a very sensible thing to learn about in this industry. Also, I imagine there’ll be booze, so that will help!
Join us for ‘Transferable skills in the creative industries’ on 19th August.
HarperCollins, publishing industry, seonaid Macleod, skills gaps, stephanie hall