Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

What does the digital skills gap mean for online recruitment?

With the UK’s digital skills gap ever-expanding and the number of people looking to enter a career in digital marketing (150,000 digital jobs are predicted by 2020), the future for online recruitment is looking pretty bleak, isn’t it?

Well actually, online recruitment is likely to be the system that thrives the most out of all supply areas within the chain, because as we know, digital recruitment is innovative, adaptive and open to change naturally.

While of course your clients are going to be significantly affected as the digital skills gap grows, already being in desperate need of digital candidates, unfortunately the gap in specific digital skills is not going to diminish overnight.

Added to the fact, companies in this day and age still don’t fully understand how to engage with their workforce digitally. This is supported by the recent briefing document published by the Digital Marketing Institute which shows that marketers in 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.

How has it happened?

While the Digital Skills Gap has been on the Government and business agenda for some time, the change has unsurprisingly been a gradual one. One reason for this is that young people have changed the system of education, opting for general marketing degrees at university and then graduating without hands-on experience from a specialist internship or placement and consequently struggling to find paid work.

Another reason is that businesses (particularly traditional industries such as manufacturing, engineering etc.) haven’t been quick enough at communicating with Government and other leading bodies the need for necessary skills that they are not only looking to fulfil now but in the future. This means looking at organisational operations and predicting what skills will be needed in the future to drive business forward.

What can be done?

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 mind-set 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.

This responsibility will come down to you, as online agencies to educate the market and manage expectations.

Explaining the fundamentals of what digital marketing represents (be it Social Media Marketing, Mobile Marketing, Pay per Clicks, Email Marketing or Web Development and Analytics), through to scoping out the remit of the client’s needs, such as what level of experience they can expect within their budget.

On the flip side, you will also need to ensure candidates know what is expected of them when they apply for an in-house position. Generally speaking, a small in-house marketing team will not have the resources to continually train and develop staff and so employees aren’t actively seeking out external training. This can be detrimental to reducing the skills gap.

What can be done?

That all said, there is help out there for organisations and individuals who want it.

Take one of the world’s leading marketing training providers Professional Academy for instance, who 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. 

This will give clients and candidates the opportunity to close the digital skills gap by acting now and taking hold of innovative thinking and action.

Both new graduates and experienced candidates have a responsibility to train themselves and seek out opportunities for development if they want to succeed - those with core skills now have an incredible opportunity to catapult themselves into further success. For those in work at the moment, on-the-job training should be considered to be a real benefit.

Professional Academy offers a free Digital Skills Audit, via their website, which candidates can take to see how their skills match up. Read more here: