Saturday, 7 March 2015

Industry #SkillsGap: Where does it actually reside?

It would appear the UK's Marketing Industry (agency and client-side world) is perceived to have a skills gap. There are a number of articles and research pieces specifically identifying the key hot spots where the industry is deemed to be lacking skills; these include the inability to derive key business insights; construct a meaningful brief; through to the understanding and implementation of a cohesive digital strategy. In fact Adobe's Digital Distress study stated:

Which means 3 out of 5 don't. That's quite scary and a little sad.  Especially when the impact of this is discouraging young and emerging talent not to pursue a career in our industry as they feel they do not have the confidence to apply.

However, maybe, just maybe, the skills gap isn’t in the obvious place, (that being people leaving university and in the early stages of their careers). Maybe it’s elsewhere, maybe it's at the more senior end of the spectrum? Or maybe the reality is, it's because of a set of circumstances out of our control, which has amplified the symptoms due to the accelerated pace of change we find ourselves in.

If you’re familiar with The Laws of Disruption, you may understand what I’m leading to.

Technology is moving at pace, social change lags behind, and business and political change lags behind even further. Technology is driving consumer behaviour, and businesses are doing their very best to keep up with both, but not necessarily succeeding.

Senior marketers and members of the boardroom, who can possibly remember a time before the mobile phone existed, are having to adapt and adopt. Where as 'Generation Y' and younger have grown up with 'digital', it's second nature.

Example: "What's digital?" asked my eldest I went on to explain, in what can only be described as marketing speak; to which she replied, "I don't understand." She then went back to Snapchatting her friends on the iPad while listening to Spotify.

The question is: Are we really lacking such skills? Or are we, as an industry, at a point of transition. Not a technical one, but a cultural one.

Emerging talent looking for new careers are presented with job titles, which have been created for the convenience that more senior established business people can understand. Creating titles, putting people in boxes due to the perception of how our industry is evolving. Poor old HR and recruitment agencies! How do they know what a business really needs and then how can they spot the talent that can fulfil that need.

But bigger than this, how do organisations know what agencies to select? Where to put their marketing investment? It's hard.

It's an interesting period we find ourselves in, the first hurdle to overcome is the acknowledgement that this situation exists, and will do so for quite some time.

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