In the first agency study of the North West's digital marketing
sector, we quizzed dozens of industry professionals across a
variety of positions and levels of seniority.
Our findings show that there is more to the skills shortage than
just money as a series of structural factors linked to training,
recruitment processes and higher education challenges play out to
cause a major headache for agencies and candidates alike.
At the heart of the problem lies the disconnect between many
digital native marketers, often graduates of specialist vocational
courses holding junior agency positions and senior staff,
two-thirds of whom graduated from redbrick universities and without
specialist digital marketing backgrounds.
The research proved incredibly enlightening. Whilst we hoped it
would help identify some of the reasons behind the skills shortage
what we didn't expect to discover were essentially two separate
cultures - one predominantly redbrick, the other, graduates of
specialist digital marketing courses, both with their own sets of
values and motivations and both failing to fully appreciate the
needs of the other.
The divide revealed itself in a variety of ways throughout the
research. For instance 100% of senior respondents saw strong
interpersonal, client handling and negotiation skills as more
important than computing or internet related skills. By contrast
more than a third of junior respondents believed creative and
technical skills were the most important.
Another example was the marked contrast in salary outlooks. 50%
of junior digital marketers believing that salaries would increase
by 5-10% over the next twelve months compared to the majority of
senior management who see salaries increasing in line with
The closer we looked at the data the more obvious the gap
appeared. For example, junior graduates place such a high priority
on training that it came out as the single biggest reason that they
left their first role. Office location and social factors are also
important again outweighing salary as priorities, issues that
barely ranked for more senior staff,
If agencies don't clearly understand candidates then how can
they expect to appeal to them? On the other hand if candidates fail
to appreciate how an agency thinks, how it prioritises then of
course there will inevitably frustrations.
What's clear from our research is that addressing the skills
shortage requires a form of realignment - for agencies and
candidates to sync better. Not only do agency management call the
recruitment shots but it's clearly in their interests to start
developing a better, more nuanced candidate understanding.
Candidates too, particularly vocational graduates would be wise to
put themselves in the shoes of potential employers and consider the
kinds of non technical skills and that their prospective employer
For the full survey presentation including current salary and
projected salary findings and analysis click through The Candidate
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