Up-skilling and the digital arena

Research conducted by PageGroup in partnership with futurologists The Foresight Factory found that 67% of people surveyed believe that they need to learn more and a further 22% expect to start a course of study in the near future. When we apply this to the digital marketplace it is expected that the need for up-skilling will be significant. Digital roles, and the subsequent workforce, by their very nature, are often at the cutting edge of organisations – the need to undertake additional and on-going training for many digital marketers is simply part of the job.
Technology is advancing at an ever-increasing rate, and therefore workers need to re-skill and up-skill, quickly and regularly. Moving forward, access to training will be fundamental for both employers and employees alike.

Digital skills

As one of the most innovative and evolving industries, digital professionals are in high demand. There are roles available today that didn’t exist only a few years ago and this trend is set to continue. In recent years we have seen the development of new roles such as CRO Specialist, Digital PR Manager and a host of programmatic roles. London appears to be leading the way with these new job titles, often emerging first in niche agencies but they then spread both geographically and cross-industry. As roles evolve, so too do the skills required to excel in the industry. 
In 2030, the skills that may be required for a digital professional are difficult to predict. Our research has found that, while it is uncertain exactly what skills people will need and what training will be required, professionals will develop and expand their capabilities faster than ever before. Degrees will be completed in a shorter period of time and will cover specific skill sets separately which professionals will study right throughout their careers. Specific courses will be required to enter the marketplace, others will be studied as part of the job and there will be some learning modules that will need to be completed regularly as technology continues to evolve the demands for and types of roles available. 
To facilitate this, not only will professionals need to be proactive with their approach to training and development outside of the office, but employers will also need to provide the platforms for their teams to do so as part of their job.

Up-skilling digital professionals

We are already seeing a shift in the way we view qualifications and training. Traditionally, people would study a Bachelor’s degree in a topic they might simply find interesting and as a result, could find their way into most careers. Today, graduates are studying the subjects they know will help them reach the careers they want and it is not uncommon for top candidates to have a Master’s degree as well. In recent years we have seen the emergence of more specific degrees and a movement away from generic Marketing degrees. Qualifications now focus on technical skills such as Digital Media Technology and creative skills like Animation and Motion Design. In a heavily diluted graduate candidate pool, those that stand out have successfully combined work experience with relevant study and additional skill-specific courses/qualifications. 
Looking forward, it must be stressed that the responsibility to up-skill doesn’t sit exclusively with employees. Employers must be prepared to provide support in this process; to provide new methods of learning, and to facilitate the development of new skills. Professionals are already increasingly interested in training and development budgets as part of their employment benefits package. Many employers offer to partially or fully fund external training courses and qualifications. On numerous occasions, we have witnessed candidates with multiple offers choose a lower paying role because it provided formal training or a training and development budget. Businesses should be prepared to talk to prospective employees about training and development opportunities during the interview process. An example of this, particularly prevalent at the junior level, is employers who rotate the roles of their employees and offer relevant training to provide their staff with a broad range of skills. 

Supporting the up-skilling of employees

The obligation to support employees with training and development doesn’t stop once a new hire has commenced work; common frustrations from candidates looking to secure a new role include a lack of development opportunities and/or limited ability to grow within their role. The impact for employers can be (at the very least) threefold: a disengaged workforce, a workforce not fully equipped to excel in their roles and ultimately, increased staff turnover. For employers, a willingness to invest and up-skill its workforce should bring about a host of benefits including, but not limited to: a better-equipped workforce, a more engaged workforce and increased retention. As focus shifts to skills and development, the winners in this evolving job market will be those companies that demonstrate a true commitment to the progression and training of their people. 
The digital marketplace is constantly changing; technology could be developed tomorrow that could require an entirely new set of skills to excel in a career within digital. While all industries will feel the effects of these changes, it is likely the digital sector will experience changes on a much larger scale that will significantly alter the future workforce. Preparing for these changes now will ensure your team is well-equipped to adapt to the digital arena of tomorrow. 
In summary, up-skilling will best serve the needs of all parties when embraced as a mutual covenant; a desire from employees to grow and develop and support from employers to facilitate this ongoing process.
For more information, or to discuss how we can help with your digital recruitment processes, get in touch for a confidential conversation. 
Andrew Carr
Manager, Michael Page Digital
T: +44 121 634 6947