‘Marketers must do more to overcome capability gap caused by shortage of specialist skills’

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Marketers increasingly recognise that a skills shortage, particularly in more specialist areas, is a big issue but the vast majority are failing to do anything about it, according to new research.

The survey of 200 marketers by recruiters Hays Marketing found that 82% think there is a skills shortage while 70% believe their skills do not set them up for the future of marketing. However just 18% of marketers are doing anything about the issue while only half of those questioned are currently involved in any sort of training.

This skills shortage is most apparent in entry level roles, with just 17% thinking their skills are “very good”. This translates to issues in hiring more experienced marketers, with 48% finding it difficult to recruit those at an intermediate level.

In part this is down to organisational barriers, according to the report, with 58% citing restricted training resources and 48% struggling to prioritise their own development over their day-to-day responsibilities.

For the vast majority (69%) the main way of improving skills is by reading industry publications and blogs to learn about best practice.

The capability gap

This lack of training is leading to what Hays dubs the ‘capability gap’, the difference between how proficient employers deem their workforce to be and how employees rate themselves.

“As technology develops, so does the role of a marketer. The ever-changing array of new marketing tools and technologies is contributing to a shortage of specialist skills evident across the profession. In order to address skill shortages, employers and marketers must confront the ‘capability gap’,” says the report.

It adds that many employees seem unaware of the expectations companies have in particular areas. For example new entrants to marketing give their commercial awareness a mark of 3.7 out of five but employers only rate them as 2.3 – a gap of -1.4.

The skills marketers need

Marketers think IT understanding, technical knowledge and commercial awareness will be the most important skills for success over the next 12 months but there is a gap between those identifying the skills and those taking steps to develop them.

For example, 85% cite commercial awareness as a critical skill but just 49% are involved in training.

There is also a lag in “soft” skills such as collaboration and leadership. Some 61% identify communications skills as critical but just 39% are ensuring they develop those skills.

Clare Kemsley, MD of Hays, says: “The ever evolving role of a marketing professional requires the best talent to continuously adapt and update their skill sets, but despite concerns from employees around skill shortages, particularly in commercial awareness and digital skills, many employees are failing to act.”

However she also believes it is up to employers to do more to help train their staff in order to future proof their organisation and prevent employees from leaving for other brands that offer more resources.

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