LONDON: The latest staffing census by Britain's Institute of Practitioners in Advertising – the body representing UK advertising, media and marketing communications agencies – reports a record number of people employed by its members as at September 2008.

Across the IPA's 272 member-shops, the combined payroll totalled 20,131 staff – the highest in forty-eight years and one thousand more than in September 2007.

The latest figure reflects the IPA's increased membership, up by eleven agencies since the year-earlier census. 

But the IPA is all too aware that the party's over. Says director-general Hamish Pringle: "With the headlines we've seen over the past few weeks, we expect 2008 may be remembered as a peak year for agency staff levels."

The workforce remains almost equally divided between men and women. But the gender gap continues to yawn with regard to seniority, with an estimated 84% of top positions (chairmen, chief executives and managing directors) filled by men, versus a meagre 16% of women.

There also appear to be a plethora of portraits aging in agency attics, with youth triumphant. The IPA estimates that 47.6% of agency staff are aged thirty or below, with a 5% sprinking of 50-plus geriatrics defying senescence and the grim reaper.

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff