With the digital skills agenda a high priority for organisations and the number of people (150,000 digital jobs are predicted by 2020) looking to enter a career in digital marketing, you’d think that organisations have the pick of the litter, wouldn’t you?
Well sadly, that isn’t the case. The truth is, in most instances, companies don’t actually know what they are looking for when recruiting digital talent, and without a digital plan, it can end up with the blind leading the blind.
The most typical situation happening is that companies are relying on digital natives (meaning a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology and so familiar with computers and the Internet from an early age), instead of upskilling their current workforce on digital skills.
What this does is hinder areas such as marketing, management, customer service and sales, all of which suffer significantly from this, leaving existing talented people to feel displaced and unmotivated. You’ve likely already come across this in the phrase of ‘train to retain’.
Unfortunately, companies still in this day and age, don’t fully understand how to engage with their workforce digitally. This fact is supported from the recent briefing document published by the Digital Marketing Institute which shows that the USA (63%), UK (52%) and Ireland (72%) are unanimous in their verdict that becoming more digitally focused will be critical to their organisation in the next two years. Key concerns for respondents include the fact they feel that a lack of urgency exists in their organisation to develop a focus on digital transformation.
So what can we do about it?
Well for starters, we need to change perceptions and knowledge. With this, the digital skills gap ‘can’ and ‘will’ be faced, but also change business organisation’s mindset of what great, qualified and trained digital talent can bring to a business.
All businesses in this day and age, but particularly marketing organisations will and do benefit from having the best digital talent at their fingertips, as opposed to their competitors having it.
Understanding what ‘digital’ means in marketing
Perhaps digital marketing is misrepresented because we look at digital as a specific role in time and not in terms of the commercial innovation necessary for businesses and brands to move forward.
Companies must break down the 9-5 at a desk mentality to appeal to digital talent who, as the name suggests, have increased levels of flexibility to work away from an office, in more creative environments or during less traditional working hours.
There are so many digital fields that a company can benefit from, whether they are specific to a direct activity or tactic (such as an online client engagement manager or SEO specialist), or generalist for example a Digital Marketer or Communications Manager, who may be responsible for a number of areas within the business from social media management through to digital communication, website maintenance and digital customer relations.
For organisations to gain the right talent, they must have a clear understanding of what they are looking for, not only commercially, but skills wise too.
Lack of progression or training opportunities
Digital talent can sometimes be seen as a fix to a problem, like when a company is experiencing website issues, or when they have a social media crisis. This ultimately means that for many people who enter digital roles, there is no (or a significant lack of) company progression or further training, which as we know in any marketing role is essential to stay on top in an ever-changing environment.
In competency-based tests it was revealed that only 8% of current marketers possess entry level digital skills, while 69% of marketers in the UK and USA say they feel the need to improve their digital skills in order to remain competent in their current role.
With the detrimental consequences of the skills gap all too clear, many marketers feel content with the skills they currently possess but the future waits for no-one and anyone who isn’t evolving with the times are losing money for their business. The only true way to address the situation is by education and skills development
Is there a solution?
Well, there may be now…
The world’s leading marketing training providers Professional Academy have partnered with the Digital Marketing Institute to create a customised qualification specifically driven to close the skills gap.
The Digital Marketing Diploma will act as a global certification in digital marketing. The course addresses a number of critical skills which are currently lacking in the marketplace, such as Social Media Marketing, Mobile Marketing, Pay per Clicks, Email Marketing and Web Analytics among the syllabus.
The diploma can be completed through either a 30-hour workshop supported course, where a mixture of distance eLearning and four face-to-face workshops are used, or solely through distance learning online. At the end of the course, candidates complete a three hour Pearson VUE computer-based exam, after passing candidates can take a new confidence in digital marketing alongside an internationally recognised certification to add to CVs.
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 than what currently exists and 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.
By Michael O'Flynn, sales & marketing manager, Professional Academy
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