Digital Skills Gap? Never Heard Of It

Manchester City Council’s report, written to the Economy Scrutiny Committee in February 2018, stated that the “digital skills gap is the most significant challenge facing the sector”. Titled Manchester’s Digital Sector, the report discusses the importance of the industry to the city’s economy, valuable in both revenue and job creation.

A lot of businesses are directly affected by this gap, at least in terms of the quality of their staff. It’s tricky to recognise, but if your company sees content creation as an indulgence, it’s likely that it is missing these digital skills.

Well-informed content marketing is essential to growth, and a little self-reflection on your processes can reveal where you may be falling down certain pitfalls.

What exactly is this ‘gap’?

The digital skills gap is the absence of tech- and data-literate employees in organisations – employees that they increasingly rely on to compete with others in their sphere.

The cause of the gap is a combination of multiple factors, some of them uncontrollable. Technological advancement, for example, is moving at too quick a pace for schools and colleges to maintain an up-to-date curriculum. Similarly, due to the size of the majority of digital agencies, it is difficult for them to offer a traditional apprenticeship or training scheme.

Other factors, however, are a result of unrealistic expectations and a reluctance to engage with professionals. A graduate that is hired to handle social media may not have the necessary skills to produce downloadable guides, for instance.

In frustration, these businesses rely on traditional marketing methods that they are familiar with. With no training and candidates feeling pressured into claiming to produce work they are simply not equipped to, the skills gap widens, and the employer grows ever more cynical.

But how is this impacting me?

Well, according to Manchester Digital, 77% of businesses reported growth in 2017-18. In order to support this progression, Manchester businesses would need to recruit outside of the regional talent pool. Additionally, 27% of businesses surveyed reported having to turn away work as they were unable to recruit the necessary talent. Tech North’s Northern Digital Jobs Strategy confirms the direct effect that this has. They state that 58% of digital companies in the North consider finding talent a key business challenge.

Traditional methods are only going to get you so far. Your competitors will be using a dynamic, forward-thinking content strategy, and through it they are achieving a much higher level of engagement with their prospects.

You need to remember that candidates may overcompensate for their inexperience in the field. A knowledgeable marketer is expensive and hard to find, but hiring a graduate with the assumption that they can adapt easily to different systems and strategies without proper guidance will likely see them struggling under the workload.

What you can do to mind the gap

Speaking to a professional about your brand can help realise the potential in your product or service. Content agencies are viewed as a luxury in small and medium-sized businesses, despite the value they offer. Employers usually cite cost – but this should be countered with the salaries of full-time social media executives (around £17,000) and content managers (£25,000). Not to mention the cost of having employees in your office.

Outsourcing your communication allows you to excel in the areas where other businesses may not yet be exploring.

Lastly, you may have been guilty in the past of hiring a marketer with no idea what they should be doing. Ask yourself what you want to get out of content marketing and trade ideas with the experts. There’s no need to silo departments off – regularly meeting and forming a marketing strategy that everyone is on board with will help massively in achieving your business’ goals.

Our team can help highlight your strengths and explore what makes your brand unique. Get in touch to discover how our professional content writers can help plug your skills gap and allow your business to thrive.

Content agency Manchester