Education & Sustainability: Sparing a thought for the future…

Posted on: Thursday 05 March 2020 | Antonio Dale Forte - Industry Initiatives Executive

With our recent research highlighting the digital skills gap, IAB UK’s Antonio Dale Forte looks at how we can begin to bridge it

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Many of us in the digital ad industry never studied anything related to digital marketing, data analytics or advertising. Maybe we believed that a more traditional degree would allow us to have greater flexibility in our careers, or that a degree in marketing simply wasn’t a requirement, and maybe we were right at the time.

However, with digital advertising evolving faster than ever before, and with the recent release of an IAB UK study, conducted with Middlesex University, indicating that 88% of us find it challenging to find qualified individuals with up-to-date digital skills, it is clear that the current system isn’t working well enough. This raises the question, how can we as an industry better equip young people with the skills they need for the future?

Our research into the digital skills gap highlights the extent of the problem; most of us have challenges in recruiting junior workers. It shows that the most important attributes that we look for as an industry are interpersonal and team skills, but that in five years this will have changed to analytical skills. 

Commenting on the research, David Terry, Founding Director of Pivotal London, said that “from a recruitment perspective, there is already strong competition for analytical talent and unfortunately demand outstrips supply”. So, a lack of analytical talent already exists. He goes on to say: “Clients are looking for candidates who can deliver analytically and technically, so we are working with them to identify talent outside the sector and industry.”

This shortage of analytical talent means that we must ensure that our industry is appealing to young people at an early stage in order to attract the best of the best, and the most effective way to do this is through quality education.

Work such as our research into the digital skills gap is a great starting point for achieving this. Sharing our collective concerns on where we think more support and collaboration is needed between our industry and the education sector will improve digital skills and raise the quality of the available junior talent in our industry down the line.

To compliment the IAB’s work, supporting and getting involved with charities and networks such as Speakers for Schools and Founders4Schools can help us to engage with future talent at an earlier stage in their career thought process. These schemes allow us to educate young people about our industry and inform them of the breadth of potential careers within it. As marketers, we can all relate to the benefits of brand awareness and having a room full of 14-18 year olds impassioned about the idea of joining your workforce can only be a good thing for your businesses.

For many of us, it is difficult to look past our day-to-day, but maximising the potential of our industry’s future leaders will be beneficial to everyone in the long run. The easiest way we can achieve this is to maintain more frequent dialogue between the wider industry and the educational bodies that fill our collective talent pool, through pieces such as the Digital Skills Gap research and with a continued effort to engage with schools, colleges and universities at all possible opportunities.

Communication is the key to ensuring that the next generation of marketers are equipped with the relevant skills and industry knowledge to succeed in an ever-changing digital world. The future growth of our industry fully depends on how effective we are in cultivating this future talent, and that anything we can do today to help will be invaluable in the coming years.

Written by

Antonio Dale Forte

Industry Initiatives Executive

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