The quality of people coming into PR has come in for a stinging attack, prompting a heated debate across the region.

Tim Gearey, head of business PR at McCann Erickson in Solihull, believes too many newcomers are failing to go the extra mile, but other experts say the skills are out there and the industry needs to develop them further.

He said: "The long and short of it, from my point of view, is that the good people are few and far between.

"It's very frustrating." Mr Gearey, who is also a regional committee member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), heads the firm's business-tobusiness wing.

He believed there was a shortfall in skilled technical writers and there were too many people wanting to come into the industry who had not pushed themselves enough.

Mr Gearey said: "We're looking for the people who do that little bit extra.

"People who get themselves work experience, who push themselves forward and too often, unfortunately, it's not happening.

"Those who do that will make a niche for themselves and it will happen for them."

Claire Oliver, chair of the CIPR in the Midlands, said there may have been a change in attitude in people coming into the industry from ten years ago, but she maintained the talent was out there.

She highlighted training as a major issue.

"There are cases where people come in and expect to get promotion up the ladder after a period of time without necessarily having gone up to that higher level, "she said.

" Others comes in and perhaps don't realise how hard it is.

"There might be more of an expectation that you will naturally get a promotion, when once the expectation was that you had to really earn that promotion."

The industry, "people coming in, people in it, people running it" could not expect newcomers to have the skills needed unless they invested in the time to make sure they gained those skills.

She said that too often companies were putting training on a back-burner while they dealt with the day-today business of winning work and handling deals.

She said: "Training is a huge issue right across the country.

It affects all areas from PR and marketing to journalism and manufacturing."

Another aspect was the focus which people have on a work-life balance, which she welcomed as a positive move.

Sarah Williams, a senior lecturer running and coordinating a new three year BA hons public relations course at Wolverhampton University, said: "The skills shortage argument is one I have heard but I do not think, overall, it is a fair representation. Certainly we have some exceptional students and given the right training, they will do very well."

The course aimed to have a real life focus where people carried out work experience and gained an insight into the real world they were aiming to enter.

Ann Mealor, deputy director general of the CIPR, said the nature of the profession meant that people in the business were "ultra-critical" of grammatical or style mistakes.

She said: "It's a matter of training and working to get it right."

For more information on the CIPR logon to