Dawn McGruer Keyboard, digital skills gap featured

Tackling the digital skills gap

Dawn McGruer Keyboard

Article provided by tech though-leader and author, Dawn McGruer

As a businesswoman with a background in programming, I’m very interested in technology as a whole but in particular, I have a passion around helping businesses and brands shine online.

Although we have seen massive growth in the use of digital marketing within business and budgets allocated towards online activities it is extremely disheartening to see that we face a worldwide digital skills gap.

The Office of National Statistics is reporting that we will have almost 750,000 jobs unfilled if we don’t focus on up-skilling and developing digital talent but this isn’t just focusing on the youth of today but also developing digital skills in current marketing roles.

There is a vast amount of expertise available in terms of business development and sales and marketing but we must not neglect our workforce who perhaps may feel slightly daunted and overwhelmed by the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of digital. Even now many marketing degrees contain little focus around digital marketing and this is indeed due to a lack of digital talent in lecturers not just in business.

Digital Managers and Directors who are not necessarily involved at a practitioner level still need a clear understanding of the latest trends, tips, techniques and tools available to be able to advise and lead teams at a strategic level.

If we consider that only about 20 per cent of tech jobs are held by women this just highlights the need for positive tech role models and inspiring leaders in digital so we can move towards a digitally empowered nation that can reap amazing results in an economic climate that perhaps feel a little uncertain right now.

The emergence of amazing qualifications focused towards real-world business marketing has been a welcome addition such as the CIM Digital Diploma in Professional Marketing and we see students excelling in the digital arena even before graduation because often they are confirming what has been self-taught which is a massive boost to confidence but also they are confident they have the latest knowledge and proven strategies to drive their businesses forward.

As much as there needs to be a focus on recruiting more women into the tech sector there also needs to be recognition around equality of pay. There is a gender pay gap across most sectors but we are seeing differences as much as £20,000 for the same role which is just astonishing in this day and age.

So as a whole there needs to be a shift in the way we retain and recruit new talent. As digital marketing is such an essential skill in business today an investment into schools to encompass digital in the syllabus and forge a clear career pathway into the world of digital. The average salary for a digital marketer is £38K and dramatically rises to £50K + with experience and being qualified.

I have recently designed a curriculum used in one of the UK’s biggest apprenticeship providers, Just IT which is geared towards not only upskilling apprentices but guaranteeing an actual paid job to progress their careers.

This is a fantastic tip forward and for those interested in tech or who have a more creative flair these types of business placed learning routes are exactly what is required to help bridge this epic digital skills gap we face.

I am also a big advocate of continuous professional development programmes so the fact that the world’s largest institute – The Chartered Institute of Marketing offers progression through encouraging on-going learning through their study centres.

For instance our Academy, Business Consort has trained and certified round 25,000 professional in digital and social media marketing but their journey doesn’t stop at graduation because they can work towards the highest accolade in marketing – chartered Marketer status through investing time in up-skilling every year. The CIM CPD programme is free for members and should be advocated by employers to ensure they not only have a happy skilled workforce that achieves great results but they having cutting-edge knowledge to adapt to the business environment and technology advancements.