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Marketing industry urged to implement continuous learning cultures

The DMA is calling on senior management teams across the UK to introduce continuous learning cultures within their marketing organisations.

This follows today’s publication of findings from our UK-wide pilot into micro-upskilling, revealing it offers additional learner benefits compared to traditional training methods, but it must be spearheaded from the very top to reach its full potential.

In late 2022, around 150 learners across 16 multinational organisations, charities, SMEs, and agencies took part in trialling micro-upskilling over a 6–10-week period. Organisations such as Experian, RSPCA, Golden Charter, Visit Scotland, PETA, and The Dragonfly Agency were involved.

The DMA’s pilot is an integral part of its wider campaign to move the marketing industry a step closer towards reducing industry-wide skills gaps and talent shortages – to fuel future growth in the UK’s digital economy through continuous staff development.

The main objective was for participating learners to commit as little as one hour a week to flexible, bitesized e-learning and professional development. Following the pilot programme, learners took part in a survey to help the DMA better understand their experiences of micro-upskilling as an alternative learning approach.

There were key benefits identified by talent:

  • 52% of learners felt more engaged with upskilling due to the micro-upskilling pilot
  • 46% developed new skills through micro-upskilling that they wouldn’t have previously been able to
  • 39% of learners stated they found micro-upskilling better than their previous learning experiences
  • 67% believe micro-upskilling has made their organisation more engaged with their skills development

“Direction, support and structure are essential building blocks of a learning culture yet are also the main barriers to professional development,” said Rachel Aldighieri, MD of the DMA. “Our micro-upskilling pilot findings are really encouraging – demonstrating to businesses how they can develop these building blocks to supercharge skills acquisition in the short term, while instilling long-term learning habits across their organisation that benefits the employee and employer.”

A key challenge affecting 60% of learners was finding time to upskill. In addition, 55% also stated they had too many competing priorities. These were the most stated challenges by quite a margin, so senior leaders must bear this in mind when implementing micro-upskilling.

Because of these reasons, 35% managed to do micro-upskilling ‘most weeks’ throughout the pilot, with 39% only able to do it ‘some weeks’. 26% even stated that they were unable to ‘do it very often’.

Evidently, micro-upskilling opportunities are highly desirable to staff – so much so that 90% of learners stated that they would like to continue micro-upskilling with their respective organisations.

Aldighieri explained: “In the current economic climate, financial and time constraints mean that traditional training approaches are harder to implement, yet it is critical that our industry doesn’t neglect skills development and the growth of our teams. Micro-upskilling provides an effective and productive way of investing in our people and, in turn, plugging skills gaps to drive business growth.”

63% of learners stated they would feel more confident and positive about their career if micro-upskilling was permanent at their organisation – 33% would be more likely to stay with them.

Aldighieri added: “The fact that the majority of participating talent mentioned that if micro-upskilling became permanent it would boost their career confidence as well as their organisational loyalty, suggests it has a huge role to play as an alternative learning method in our industry – supporting traditional approaches such as training days.”

Micro-upskilling is clearly an important step in the right direction for facilitating meaningful change, so the DMA will now expand its commitment to it.

“The DMA will now work with our wider community to introduce micro-upskilling as a key element of membership. A pledge will be introduced requesting member organisations to commit an hour a week to all staff’s L&D in our new People Pillar of the DMA Code. We aim to make continuous learning synonymous with the DMA community, so our marketers are regularly enhancing their skillsets and helping to drive responsible business growth,” concluded Aldighieri.

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DMA targets ‘micro-upskilling’ to tackle marketing skills shortage

The current skills crisis will only worsen if the marketing and creative industries do not seek a culture change – towards continuous, structured learning.

That’s the view of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), which says direction, support and structure are the essential building blocks of a learning culture yet are also often the main barriers to professional development.

For that reason, the DMA is advocating for what it calls ‘micro-upskilling’ as part of a new campaign.

It claims that with as little as one hour a week spent per employee to structured online learning and professional development, it’s possible to:-

  • Evolve skillsets and supercharge marketing output
  • Help businesses retain key talent
  • Give marketers the tools to grow what they know, enchancing CVs and allowing for the creation of better work

70% of professionals currently upskill less than an hour a week, according to a recent DMA poll.

DMA MD Rachel Aldighieri explains: “Our community needs to act now to help reduce creative, data and digital skills gaps and talent shortages seen across the UK’s digital economy. We want to futureproof the data-driven marketing industry and fuel economic growth by addressing the current skills crises. Micro-upskilling is one of the key solutions, with potential for short- and long-term benefits.

“A little and often mentality creates a habit that can fit around other responsibilities without damaging productivity – that’s important as technology evolves and professionals increasingly struggle to find the time to upskill.

Recent research found that 32% of UK employees changed jobs in last 12 months because their employer didn’t offer upskilling or training opportunities.

“The DMA is working with our community to introduce micro-upskilling as a key element of membership, to help marketing personnel enhance their skillsets and drive responsible business growth – We believe micro-upskilling will help to expand the digital and data-driven marketing skills of the current workforce,” added Aldigheirii.

However, this crisis isn’t just the responsibility of business leaders, says the DMA.

It is calling for the UK Government to deliver a more joined-up, unified National Data Strategy – to showcase the respected careers in marketing that talent with creative, data or digital skills can thrive in.

Contrary to the UK Government’s recent comments, which allude to a new campaign getting brands to reduce prices by cutting marketing budgets.

Why should businesses invest less time and resource in marketing when there is a skills crisis impacting the UK digital economy?

Aldigheirii said: “We’d like the UK Government, supported by industry bodies like the DMA, to take a more proactive role in upskilling and reskilling the nation with core creative, data and digital skills. Utilising government and industry initiatives such as apprenticeship and retraining schemes. We want to drive responsible growth through the professionalisation of our industry.”

REVEALED: The most popular digital jobs in Europe by country

Are you a digital nomad wanting to visit another country, or an employee looking for a digital role? With the great resignation continuing into 2022, now is the time to think about a career change or a change of scenery – with new research showing which roles are most in demand.

The number of digital jobs has exploded in the past decade, with more than 3.3 million search results for ‘digital jobs Europe’ generated on Google in less than a second. In addition to this, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark topped the list of digitalization in 2020. In other words, employees are spoilt for choice.

Taking it upon themselves to find the most popular digital jobs per country, VoiceNation can reveal the countries where you are most likely to find an abundance of certain digital roles, from Web Developing and UX designers, to Digital PR Experts and Content Writers.

The most popular digital jobs based on the number of hiring ads online in every country are:

  • Germany – Project Management
  • France – SEO Specialist
  • Ireland – Project Management
  • UK – SEO Specialist
  • Belgium – IT
  • Greece – Social Media
  • Sweden – AI Engineering
  • Poland – Project Management
  • Italy – Social Media
  • Spain – Online Customer Service

Are you a creative thinker wanting a career in Social Media and are thinking about moving abroad? Italy and Greece are the countries with most social media roles available. There, you can both work and enjoy the sun.

If you are an SEO Specialist looking for the best places to work, the UK or France might be the countries for you. Out of all the digital roles available, there were most SEO Specialist roles available there. For aspiring project managers, look no further than Germany, the job beating SEO, I.T and Web Development.

Sweden turns out to be a hotspot for people looking for a role within AI Engineering. If you’re looking to soak in the sun while working, you don’t need to look far. Spain and Portugal are two of the best places to look for an online customer service role, with this digital job beating Web Development and SEO as the digital role companies are hiring the most for.

Almost 50% of Gen Z considering marketing career

Almost 50 percent of Gen Zs (16-24-year-olds) say they are considering careers in the marketing industry, according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

Over a fifth of the young people surveyed also perceive marketing as a safe career choice, signalling a surge of fresh talent is to hit the industry.

The survey of 1,000 16-24-year-olds undertaken by CIM revealed 46% we interested in marketing careers and that as a result there has been a rise in the number of students starting marketing courses.

The University of Liverpool Management School reported that demand for its BA Marketing course has been exceptionally high for the year 2021-2022. The establishment attributes this to a variety of factors including a shift in how marketingis perceived as a discipline by business leaders, which they say correlates with the rise in marketing roles being offered.

The qualitative survey also showed that many of the CIM-accredited study centres enrolled saw an increased number of self-funded marketing students while furlough schemes were in operation.

Maggie Jones, director of qualifications and partnerships at CIM said: “We’ve seen two things happening during the pandemic. The first is that young people have recognised the resilient and adaptive nature of marketing and want to pursue a career in this field.

“The second is that many marketing professionals have invested in their own development and have self-funded additional learning and qualifications while being furloughed. It’s clear that people want to thrive in marketing.”

While incumbent industry professionals may have been funding their own development, the research showed that over 70% of Gen Z newcomers to the industry expect their training to be funded by employers.

Jones added: “Students and young professionals are coming into the industry after a unique couple of years. To ensure they don’t fall behind through a lack of practical experience, Gen Z expects employers to invest in training opportunities to compensate for the loss of skills during the pandemic. This highlights the need for employers to reassess their training programmes.”

Out of the CIM accredited universities and Study Centres surveyed, they all reported that students value CIM accreditation and understand that it better prepares them for the world of work.

In response to an open question in the study, Dr Elvira Ismagilova, BSc (Hons) Marketing programme lead from The University of Bradford stated that students chose their Marketing and Management MSc as the CIM accreditation ‘reflected the high quality of the programme and post graduate employability along with access to resources and networking opportunities’.

CIM offers a range of professionally recognised marketing and digital marketingqualifications designed to develop the core skills needed to succeed within the marketing industry. Many of these courses are available through over 100 Accredited Study Centres (ASCs) across the UK and internationally.

In addition to qualifications, CIM works with UK and international universities to offer practical work experience for Gen Zs through real-life business project challenges, by delivering The Pitch competition. The competition, aimed at undergraduate students in their second or third year of university allows them to pitch their ideas to a panel of industry leaders in the marketing industry by responding to real life marketing challenge. CIM believes that not only having the right marketing skills, behaviours and technical abilities is key, but students need to gain transferable business capabilities to enhance their employability.

To find out more about CIM marketing qualifications, click here:

Age divide in marketing training creating ‘significant’ digital skills deficit

Marking Learning at Work Week 2021 (17-23 May), the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) has revealed research which uncovers a significant age divide in the upskilling of UK marketing professionals.

CIM’s latest report ‘Digital Vision, living on the cutting edge’ found the majority of marketers over the age of 55 had received no training at all in the last two years, sparking concern that senior marketers may not be keeping up with the rapid digital pace of change in the sector.  

This comes after it emerged the number of unemployed people aged over 50 in the UK rose to 371,000 in 2020, a 33% rise compared to the previous year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards digital, yet the CIM research reveals that as the pandemic hit, large swathes of marketers had not updated their skills for a number of years.

  • Training deficit – One in three marketers (35%) had not attended any internal or external training courses, events or conferences in the past two years.
  • Age divide – This lack of training and upskilling increases dramatically with age – 44% of 45-54 year olds, 62% of 55-64 year olds and 74% of those over 65. By contrast only 7% of those aged 16-24 had received no training.

Senior professionals overlooked for learning and development – Four in ten (41%) senior marketing professionals did not participate in training, a higher proportion than at all other levels of seniority. 

The low levels of training among older marketers are occurring despite an acknowledgement among 71% of marketers that young people are ahead of older generations in digital marketing skills.

Meanwhile nearly half of professionals (44%) say marketers who don’t have formal training could pose a risk to their organisations.

In some critical areas, such as data and analytics, social media and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), it is clear junior staff have focused on their development, improving their digital skills to address key customer requirements or to further their careers.

The specialists have become more expert, improving their knowledge but not breadth of digital skills, whilst managers and heads have spread their skills and, in some cases, fallen back.

The report is the latest in CIM’s Impact of Marketing series which surveyed more than 1,200 marketers, from across both private and public sectors. The report finds widespread concern about the dramatic changes in the skills required of modern marketing professionals:

  • Rapid change – Six in ten marketers (63%) say the pace of change in marketing is greater than ever.
  • A completely different skill set – Six in ten marketers (62%) agree that the marketing skill set has completely changed over the past ten years. Only 9% disagree.
  • Struggling to keep up – Almost half of marketers (44%) say that they find it difficult to keep up with the changing demands of marketing.

Chris Daly, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing said: “The marketing sector has been through a huge transition in the past few years; adapting to new rules on data protection; evolving to incorporate an array of new digital channels; and responding to changing social attitudes. 

“It is worrying that so many of our peers, especially senior level marketers, have undertaken no training to help them adapt to these changes. We can understand why they might be prioritising the training of less experienced members of their team and feel they don’t have the time to fit training in, but keeping up to date in this fast paced industry should be a priority, especially when accessing learning and development is easier than it’s ever been. 

“In a sector that has faced such dramatic change in recent years, marketers who fail to upskill may be putting both their careers and their organisational growth at risk.” 

60% believed that a complete focus on digital skills can come at the expense of core marketing skills. This is felt significantly more keenly amongst 25-44 year olds. With content development at the heart of marketing it was surprising to see 59% felt good copywriting wasn’t common in the sector. Data analysis was also seen to be in decline with only 61% perceiving it as a common skills gap.