The digital skills gap remains a topic of conversation among marketing directors, with an ongoing increase in demand for specialist skills in digital marketing and eCommerce and difficulty sourcing the right talent. As marketing technologies and platforms continue to innovate, the range of skills required is ever-growing, meaning that marketers have an even more important job to continue to develop. A level of responsibility is needed to ensure that, as an industry, we are providing the proper training and encouraging upskilling in the right areas to achieve growth. Could apprenticeships be the answer?
Digital marketing upskilling in 2022
We know from research and data that digital marketing skills are ripe in the industry today. The training body Target Internet, alongside The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), released findings that areas such as data and analytics (-6%) and social media (-2%) had declined in 2021, while other areas such as digital strategy and online advertising remained stagnant.1
With the available data and evidence, brands will be more focused on hiring the right people with the right skills into their teams in 2022 to bridge the gap. However, the demand far outweighs the talent available, so leaders are looking for alternative options to ensure they are developing and nurturing their existing talent to acquire the skills necessary.
Apprenticeships focused on teaching the latest digital skills are emerging as a natural and practical solution for upskilling marketers in 2022.
Are apprenticeships the answer to closing the digital skills gap?
When thinking of apprenticeships, the mind quickly jumps to viewing these qualifications for young students looking for a route into marketing. This is one possible approach; however, apprenticeships can be used for much more, including upskilling existing teams to teach the latest skills and techniques in the industry.
A marketing apprenticeship could help bring new knowledge to the team. Individuals will work and study simultaneously, allowing them to implement learnings in real-time and pass on those core skills to others in the company. Apprenticeships are full of practical tasks and projects that allow the individual to use their place of employment as a case study. The individual will receive a qualification, and the employer will increase their digital skills competency.
More and more large organisations are investing in apprenticeship programmes to help upskill their teams. For example, Marks and Spencer launched the world’s first data science and AI academy in retail back in December to teach cutting-edge data science techniques with the hope of unlocking untapped business opportunities.2
It’s not just large organisations who are advocating for apprenticeships either. Recently at The Festival of Marketing Conference, on a panel, Lisa Hutchinson, who started her marketing career with an apprenticeship at Unilever, spoke highly of her experience, saying it was pivotal and that ‘apprenticeships will do wonders in bringing new talent and skills into business’.3
But, there is a huge disconnect between how brands value apprenticeships vs the potential impact they can have on a company. Marketing Week’s 2022 Career and Salary Survey revealed more than half of marketers work for a brand with no marketing apprenticeship offering. With this in mind, we must do more as an industry to champion apprenticeships to nurture fresh talent and upskill existing marketers to the level required to be successful in role.4