‘Serious skills gap’ in digital marketing

Just one in five people working in the marketing profession has even entry level digital marketing competency and if the deficiency is not addressed, the country will not achieve the 150,000 jobs which could potentially be created in the digital economy by 2020.

A study by the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) found 83% of workers with a marketing remit failed to achieve a pass, or 60% in its professional diploma in digital marketing. Overall it found those who took the test scored 34% lower than international counterparts.

A total of 622 people (380 in Ireland) were assessed using 54 questions across core disciplines of digital marketing strategy and planning, mobile, search, display, email and social media marketing. Participants in Ireland scored an average of 42%.

“Ireland’s digital economy is expected to be worth €21.1bn by 2020, making up some 10% of GDP and creating 150,000 much needed jobs within the country,” said the director of DMI, Ian Dodson. “If the tables aren’t turned on this trend and serious attention paid to the lack of digital skills in Ireland, the country will not achieve the growth levels predicted and stands a very real chance of damaging the fragile recovery.”

He pointed out that the average Irish consumer online spend is up 51% year on year, meaning the digital economy is growing 25 times faster than the general economy.

“However, more than 60% of online Irish consumer spend (€3.6bn of €5.9bn) is being lost to overseas companies,” Mr Dodson said. “It is essential that Irish businesses arm themselves with the skills to market and sell successfully online to halt this revenue drain.”

DMI found that while the new generation of graduates demonstrate higher levels of digital skills, outscoring their more senior compatriots, they are still falling behind their international counterparts, scoring 17% lower overall.

“As well as investing in the upcoming talent pool, it is essential that senior Irish professionals are educated in digital business to avoid them blocking the adoption of digital marketing and stymying economic growth through these channels,” Mr Dodson said.

“Irish businesses across the board expect 21% of their sales to be online in 2014, but without the rapid adoption of digital marketing skills, this estimation already seems unrealistic.

“Ireland’s position as a digital hub within Europe is under threat. It is a race to the top and the internet revolution means geography no longer matters — we have to compete with every market in the world to capture our share of the digital economy and that requires creating a talent pool able to take advantage of the opportunities right in front of us.”

Meanwhile, the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show 36,955 fewer people were claiming the dole last month than in August 2013. At 3,820,100, the number on the Live Register is now at its lowest since March 2009.

David McNamara, economist at Davy, said the figures also show a further fall in the numbers of long-term unemployed. “In the year to August, the number of claimants on the Live Register for over a year fell 9,210 (-4.7%), the sharpest decline since February,” he said.

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