Britain's Institute of Practitioners in Advertising last week published its annual Agency Census, a survey of marketing and communications member agencies, 220 in number and between them employing 14,036 permanent staff.

In 2003, total employment levels fell from the previous year's 14,200, a marginal decline of 1.15% and the third year in succession to register a fall. During the year the number of member-agencies rose by three.

In addition to staff on the permanent payroll, there are an estimated 700-plus temporary employees, freelancers and consultants working on a regular basis in IPA member shops. This number represents an increase of 11% on 2002 figures and suggests a growing trend towards more flexible working conditions in the industry.

All data relates to agencies in membership as at September 1 2003. Key points from the census are …

• Three quarters of the employed base is to be found in London, the remainder working elsewhere in England, Wales and Scotland. Year-on-year the London employed base declined from 10,843 in 131 member agencies in 2002 to 10,697 in 127 member agencies in 2003.

• By agency type 72% (10,133) of the employed base are to be found in creative and full service agencies (including direct marketing, sales promotion and digital); 28% are in media agencies.

• Women continue to comprise approximately half of the agency workforce -- but only 7% of females employed in the industry have achieved board level status or above.

• There are an estimated 449 first year trainees working within IPA member agencies, representing 3.2% of the workforce.

• The average age of employees in the industry is 33, with 48% of employees aged 30 or under, compared to only 5% over 50. The bias towards younger employees is particularly pronounced within media agencies with 61% aged 31 or under, compared with 43% in other agencies.

• Fourteen per cent of agency employees have achieved board director status or higher. Among chairmen, chief executives and managing directors, 11% are female.

• Of those agencies which provided information on employees' ethnic origin, 91.5% were white/British/Irish. Asians comprised 2.6% of the total workforce; blacks 1.8%; mixed origin 1%; and 0.5% are Chinese. Two and a half per cent came from other backgrounds (including other white).

IPA president Stephen Woodford hailed the Census as "an essential snapshot of the industry and a useful indicator of key trends that exist within".

Added Mary Budd, IPA Employment Affairs Advisor: "The Census gives us …a good baseline to look at how well our initiatives, for example on Diversity, are working. It is also encouraging to see that our members are working more flexibly. This should allow us to respond better to the challenges of the market and reduce the cost and pain of redundancies.”

Data sourced from: IPA Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff