Ireland’s Digital Skills Gap: Let’s Begin to Fix It

Author Zara Burke
Topic Careers

Last week we launched Ireland’s first Digital Skills Report and it got many people talking. 8 out of 10 marketers failed to achieve entry level competency, senior marketers were found to be 26% less knowledgeable than their entry level counterparts and we discovered a sizeable gap in Retail sector knowledge – these were just some of the shocking statistics the digital diagnostic test revealed. Today we’re looking at solutions. We’ll start by tackling this not-so-small but increasingly-pressing question: How do we bridge the digital skills gap?

The implications for the Irish economy are huge. With 150,000 digital jobs and an internet economy worth €21.1bn by 2020, Ireland’s digital skills gap could seriously derail economic recovery. While online spend is up 54% year-on-year, we’re still losing a sizeable chunk (60% or €3.9bn) to overseas competitors.

Below we discuss the importance of continuous education and how to start making small but imperative digital changes within your company.

Digital Marketing Institute’s Co-founder and Director, Ian Dodson speaks to Newstalk (at 10.22) about the alarming digital skills gap and the importance of education:

Identify the Gaps Within Your Business

Small businesses employ 23% of Ireland’s workforce. However, the digital skills of senior marketers are 26% lower than those in larger corporations. Are you a senior marketing manager of a small business? First, it’s important to test your own digital skills to get an honest appraisal of where you’re at.

You can then roll out a digital test across the whole company or within your marketing team. The goal is to identify knowledge gaps in a bid to discover what you need to learn as a collective team. Are there people within your organisation with existing digital knowledge or will you need external help? There’s only one way to find out.

1. Find Out Where Your Customers Are

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to learn everything. As with traditional marketing, pinpoint where your customers are and focus solely on the digital channels they already use. Try analysing digital usage reports and surveying customers directly to understand their digital habits. And when your digital skills improve you can eventually implement and use Google Analytics to track your main traffic sources.

2. Take the Digital Diagnostic Test

Our digital diagnostic tool allows you to test your digital skills for free. It’s only takes 15 minutes to complete and allows you to test your knowledge across the core disciplines of SEO, PPC, Email, Display, Social, Mobile and Analytics. The questions come from our industry-validated Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing syllabus which means they’ve been approved by digital leaders like Google, Microsoft, Ebay and more.

It’s the same test we used for our Digital Skills Gap Report – so you can compare your score to others in your industry. Upon completion you will receive an individual score along with a few suggestions on the next steps to take for your digital learning journey.

To learn more check out our Digital Diagnostic Video:

The Importance of Continuous Learning

There is a need to invest in professional training not just for new entrants, but also for senior staff. Ireland’s digital illiteracy – especially amongst senior decision-makers and budget holders – poses a huge barrier to the predicted growth and expansion of our digital economy. And as digital marketing is a rapidly growing industry, one that is constantly changing and evolving, marketers should be ready to commit to a continuous learning path. Education should not stop, as it often does in Ireland, at the tender age of 21.

Let’s Take Advantage of This Opportunity

To take advantage of the opportunities sat right in front of us, it is imperative to create a digital talent pool here at home. Prosperity’s 2014 Digital Salaries Survey pinpoints Ireland’s digital skills gap as a barrier to growth with a 49% gap in technical skills and an industry crying out for qualified digital professionals. We will have to continue to source talent from abroad if we do not address the situation with a strategic and sustainable education plan.

In his NewsTalk interview, the Digital Marketing Institute’s Co-founder and Director, Ian Dodson stresses the importance of putting into place an achievable education plan across the board. When speaking about bridging the digital skills gap Ian says, ”It’s about co-defining a set of standards we can all agree on in terms of teaching students, whether it’s in a college or university or IT, about how to actually engage with and get digital jobs.”

Get your marketing team educated by placing them on an accredited training programme or diploma course. But also don’t be afraid to hire people who will challenge you – people with digital skills beyond your understanding (even if that does mean taking advice from a young colleague or digital intern). These people have the power to transform your business and give it the competitive advantage it so badly needs.

Your digital journey starts with a shift in mindset, an awareness of your own skill-level and an openness to learn. Every step we take to learn, adapt and grow is a step closer to a renewed and prospering economy. Now wouldn’t that be something?

Want to know how your skills rate? Test your digital skills for free with our Digital Diagnostic.

Learn and progress along a digital marketing career path with our cornerstone certification in Digital Marketing.

Download Course Brochure

Or visit our Irish Based Courses

You may also be interested in
The Ultimate Guide to Easy Digital Upskilling
Here’s why Millennials aren’t as skilled at digital as you might think
Zara Burke