Increasingly recognised as a career of choice and boosted by new ‘celebrity’ status, the position of the PA is now a highly sought after and competitive career choice among today’s young professionals, according to leading office and secretarial recruitment agency Office Angels.

Over the last year, Office Angels, which is launching the 14th annual ‘Britain’s Next Top PA’ Award, has seen a surge in applications for PA roles, particularly among graduates with on average nearly 70 candidates applying for each available role. Competitive salaries and varied responsibilities, coupled with the ‘celebrity status’ afforded to the role by the likes of this year’s Apprentice runner up, Executive Assistant Helen Milligan, have all helped to increase the status and the desirability of this role. The PA is now one of the highest paid roles in administration and non-professional services, with an average salary of £29,338 and annual salary growth of 4.5%, against an average of 0.2%.

PA roles have also fared well during the recession, with PAs typically taking on further responsibilities as many employers have been forced to reduce staff headcount. As well as managing the smooth running of their bosses’ diaries and travel arrangements, today’s PAs are increasingly getting involved in elements of HR as well as marketing, often responsible for training staff, managing websites, creating marketing collateral and even preparing reports and presentations.

The Office Angels ‘Britain’s Next Top PA’ Award aims to recognise and reward the excellence of these crucial team members. The competition, which is open to any PA, secretary or administrative worker in the UK and Ireland, looks for excellence in a variety of areas including organisation, people skills and diary management.

Administrative professionals can enter themselves in the competition or can be nominated by their bosses. Six finalists will be invited to London for an assessment day on 2nd November, with the winner receiving an exciting prize, including two flights and accommodation in Rotterdam, courtesy of travel partner CityJet.

Last year’s winner Belen Lopez, team secretary at Jones Lang LaSalle for over seven years, has seen the benefits of getting this prestigious title added to her CV: “Winning last year’s Britain’s Next Top PA has enhanced the dynamics and role of my job. I have become more involved in wider company projects and it has heightened my profile within the company across the board, even with international directors. Winning has definitely boosted my confidence and it looks fantastic on my CV. It has also led to me to mentoring other secretaries, so I am helping to raise the standard of other administrative professionals within the company as a whole and showing them what they too can achieve”.

David Clubb, managing director of Office Angels, said: “This prestigious award is an excellent addition to any administrative professional’s CV. Most senior executives highly value their PAs and admit that they are instrumental to the smooth running of their own position. We are constantly placing high-flying PAs in increasingly varied and exciting roles and we have seen a noted increase in applications from young graduates over the last year. The skill set required of successful applicants is constantly evolving and we are proud to be able to reward the excellence of those people who underpin the smooth functioning of both small and large companies.”