Transformation of advertising & marketing industry: Summary of report on transformation issues in education and the advertising industry

12 November 2002

Ian Sutherland, Chair: Plenary Task Team into Education

Refer Appendix 10.4: Baseline Survey: State of the Advertising and Marketing Industry [PDF] 1131 kb


The advertising industry is complex with a variety of activities that require a wide range of skills and qualifications. Advertising itself is a part of an even more complex range of activities collectively known as Marketing. Consequently, the providers of education and training for this sector are equally diverse in the nature of skills and qualifications that they offer. Education and training providers can be categorised into four main groups:

  1. State supported institutions: Institutes of Technology, Technikons and Universities.
  2. Private higher education providers: Allenby, Open Windows, Damelin etc.
  3. Industry related private higher education institutions: AAA School of Advertising, Vega School of Brand Communication and the Institute of Marketing Management (IMM).
  4. Industry in-house training programmes.

Types of qualifications and providers

  • Marketing courses at Universities tend to be offered by Business and Management departments as part of a Bachelor of Commerce or Business Science degree that can be continued at the Masters and Doctoral levels.
  • Similarly, Technikons offer Certificate courses, National Diploma and Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech.) degrees in Marketing Management. Graduates of these courses and those of the Institute of Marketing Management (IMM) are likely to become Account Executives, Media or Strategic Planners in advertising agencies.
  • Private higher education institutions also offer certificate, diploma and even degree courses with similar aims.
  • A specialised route into advertising is via the National Diploma and B.Tech. Graphic Design programmes offered by Technikons and the Visual Communication Degree courses offered by two universities viz. Stellenbosch and Pretoria.
  • Copywriting, Visual Communication, Marketing and Advertising courses are offered by the two industry related education providers viz. the AAA School of Advertising and Vega.

Access issues

  • Costs: The prospect of paying an average of R7, 000+ for first year at Technikon/ University or higher at private College can act as a serious deterrent for prospective students who come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. In many of the Graphic Design courses this is made worse by the fact that additional levies are payable as expensive specialist equipment and materials are required.
  • Lack of financial support: Currently there are few scholarships or bursaries available for first years studying in the arts and culture sector.
  • No guarantees: Although these courses can be described as vocational in nature, there are no guarantees of employment upon completion.
  • Low pass rates at FET levels: For enrolment in most marketing courses prospective students are required to have a Senior Certificate with Mathematics etc. as desirable credits. Universities and many Technikons require a Matriculation Exemption. Given the current pass rate in these subjects in former DET schools, there is cause for concern.
  • Limited access to art and design education: Of particular concern is the fact that art as a primary and secondary school subject has been downgraded. Graphic Design courses require students to have developed artistic talents and evidence of this is to be demonstrated in a portfolio and/or a drawing and aptitude test. This is particularly serious in view of the fact that apartheid education already denied access to art and design education to the majority of learners.
  • Lack of career guidance: There is a pressing need for career guidance as many communities, parents, teachers and advisors are unaware of the career opportunities.
  • Lack of role models: Emphasis needs to be placed on the importance of role models. By definition, the advertising industry should promote itself as a career and positively promote role models within its ranks.
  • Decline in support for Community Art Centers: Funds for NGOs are drying up and consequently many Community Art Centers are under threat. This trend needs to be reversed as a matter of urgency as NGOs have played, and should continue to play, an important role in providing access to art and design education.


  • The difference between education and training needs to be recognised. Whereas training is, "concerned with the teaching of specific skills by practice" education should provide "intellectual, moral and social instruction." Necessary attributes of a practitioner in a transformed industry requires a broader based, in-depth education than has, hitherto, been provided. A curriculum that develops an awareness of ethical and cultural issues in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-ethnic society such as South Africa needs to be developed by public and private education providers as a matter of urgency.
  • In all of the above cognisance of the specific needs of English second language speakers needs to be made.
  • The development and publication of relevant South African instructional materials needs to be supported. Similarly, the development of appropriate teaching methodologies are required.
  • However, it needs to be accepted that very little can be achieved at the HE level of education if a solid foundation is not established at the GET and FET levels. Therefore the current development of a National Curriculum Statement for Design at the DoE should be supported and its implementation encouraged. This is particularly important in view of the fact that design education prepares learners for culturally sensitive industries such as advertising.
  • For the same reasons strong argument needs to be made for Art not to be marginalised at schools.
  • Similarly, it is recommended that the establishment of Foundation courses at tertiary institutions, Further Education and Training Institutions (FETIs) and Non Government Organisations (NGOs) need to be encouraged as important access routes.
  • Both industry and education institutions needs to become more active in recruitment and the promotion of inspirational role models. Successful Black role models should be encouraged to participate in the education process (Teaching and mentoring).
  • Transformation of the industry is not an event but a process that begins by making education inclusive. Hence talented but financially disadvantaged students require generous support and assistance from both HE institutions and industry.
  • Learnerships: A recent development that superficially appears to ameliorate this situation is the introduction of learnerships. However the number of these learnerships is limited and education and training opportunities through learnerships have been limited to the industry-sponsored sector. This situation needs to be reviewed to ensure an equitable and efficient spread of resources between the private and public education providers.
  • In-house training: In addition to the learnerships, many advertising agencies already commit to in-house training programmes. Fifteen such programmes were identified involving investments of between R14, 000 and R500,000 per annum. The efficacy of this training as a transformation tool needs to be assessed. Staff retention and sustainable career paths also need to be addressed.


Notwithstanding any of the above, neither education providers nor industry can achieve anything by working in isolation. There is an urgent need to forge new partnerships. The relationship of industry and education in South Africa needs to be revised. Education is a long-term process and this principle is not always appreciated by an industry that is often driven by short-term needs. It is widely accepted that the South African advertising industry is globally competitive and consequently its needs graduates who are able to 'hit the ground running.' To effectively meet these needs a new, co-operative model for industry involvement in education is called for.

- Ian Sutherland
Durban Institute of Technology, Task Team 3 Leader