Is there really a skills gap in digital marketing?

Is there really a skills gap in digital marketing?
Michael has a decade’s worth of applying digital techniques to sales and marketing to achieve cost effective high impact results for various companies. Since cutting his teeth in the highly competitive and high-pressure hospitality sector to join Professional Academy as sales & marketing manager, he has been able to not only implement these skills in his day-to-day job role but pass this knowledge on to help companies and individuals use digital technologies and skills more effectively to improve sales and marketing activity as well as operational performance.

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The UK Digital Skills Gap remains a blistering topic, this crisis affects organisations across all sectors – no one is safe, including marketing, and yet many sectors are unconscious to the issue, because these ‘digital skills’ sometimes come in the shape of periphery tactics, such as website monitoring, CRM management and search knowledge.

Despite people thinking that digital marketing would be the industry that remedied this skills gap a long time ago, sadly figures show that only 8% of current marketers in the UK possess entry level digital skills, a shockingly low number, we can all agree.

Digital skills refer to digital literacy and the ability to confidently use the internet and information technologies, which are vital responsibilities for any digital marketer.

The only true way to address the situation is by education and skills development

Considering the UK was responsible for the earliest known recording of digital music played out by the computer in 1951 by the BBC at the University of Manchester, on paper we should be ahead of the game when it comes to our global counterparts.

Marketing has thus far been complacent when it comes to plugging the skills gap; perhaps because digital technology has grown organically and rapidly for the past ten years, it was assumed that skills would too adapt naturally – but analysis shows the shocking truth.

Digital marketing is a dynamic sector that’s constantly responding to changing consumer habits.

As technology becomes more sophisticated, companies must invest in new ways (social engagement, interactive video and virtual reality to name a few) to better understand and communicate with their clients – and without the skills available, this will undoubtedly mean that the industry falls behind, and so will commercial profit margins.

Is digital marketing a dying trade?

In 2014 The Guardian published the UK digital marketing manager’s census showing that digital marketing professionals feel overwhelmed and isolated by the complexity of their work.

It’s clear that many digital marketers were feeling frustrated and unmotivated through the lack of recognition from management and other departments.

Despite this, the number of people looking to work in digital marketing has grown exponentially over the past few years.

It warned that the digital and creative sector workforce needs to keep pace with advancements – especially with digital technology employment predicted to increase by 6% by 2020

Has digital understanding shifted?

The total population who are active savvy internet users is a sizable 89%. The share of web page views on laptops and desktops comes in at 58% with web page views on phones coming in 2nd at 27%, despite 58% of the UK population being mobile internet users.

Over 59% have active social media accounts and operate day-today using an array of digital technologies, so people know how important digital is, don’t they?

While the industry and technology has most certainly moved forward – the simple fact is that the skills of people within those sectors has not been provided for.

The only true way to address the situation is by education and skills development.

While it’s not necessary to have a specific degree in Marketing, Advertising or PR for a role in digital marketing, it certainly wouldn’t hurt.

The Digital Marketing Institute’s Missing the Mark report has revealed that ‘digital talent crisis’ is a global problem, with more than half (59%) of the marketers questioning the need to improve their digital marketing skills for career progression.

Indeed, the government’s own digital skills assessment emphasises the need for academic development as well as on-hand skills based training, but as of yet no qualification has been specifically driven towards the digital skills agenda, until now that is.

The future is digital

In order to succeed, our thinking and skillset needs to be too, failing to do so will result in an even larger skills gap then what currently exists.

This will not only affect organisations who need to adapt their marketing to new innovative audience engagement strategies, but also decrease the opportunities for people looking to advance or enter a career in marketing.

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