Press Release

Failing Digital Skills Threaten to Disrupt Ireland's Economic Recovery

September 5th, 2014

A new report from the Digital Marketing Institute exposes for the first time how Irish professionals measure up when it comes to their digital skills for business. 8 in 10 people (83 per cent) with a marketing remit failed to achieve entry-level competency1, as well as scoring a shocking 34 per cent lower than international colleagues.

622 people (380 in Ireland) were assessed using 54 questions across the core digital marketing disciplines of strategy and planning, mobile, search, display, email and social media marketing.

Digital skills competency in Ireland was found to be 30 per cent lower than entry-level competency - that expected of a junior digital executive, or anyone undertaking basic digital campaigns tactics for a business.

Impact on Ireland's Economy

With a predicted 150,000 digital jobs and an internet economy worth €21.1bn by 20202, co-founder and director of the DMI, Ian Dodson believes that the implications for the Irish economy are significant.

“The digital economy has taken centre stage in Ireland's economic recovery with the industry creating hundreds of jobs every month. If we can't provide suitably skilled professionals to fill these positions Ireland could stand to lose its advantage as a European digital hub and as European headquarters for many of the major digital companies. The threat is even more acute as the talent pool grows in emerging economies,” says Dodson.

Don O'Leary, Twitter'sDirector of Sales for the UK and Ireland says: “Digital marketing has revolutionised the way business connects with their target market. If Irish business leaders don't embrace and invest in this change, they will lose out to International competitors who are turning this opportunity into a distinct competitive advantage”

However Dodson adds: “Where there's a threat there's a opportunity. On the positive sidethe skills gap narrows notably in the discipline of mobile marketing suggesting Irish businesses could perhaps leapfrog older practices and specialise in emergent mobile marketing techniques, which are increasingly driving marketing spend.”

The economic threat posed by our failure to keep pace with other countries is further highlighted by recent figures showing how over 60% (€3.6bn of €5.9bn) of Irish people's online spend is currently going overseas2.

In the retail sector alone online revenues are growing at over 20 times the rate of traditional high street retail business3; but digital skills are not keeping pace. The Digital Marketing Institute study reveals that marketing professionals in the retail sector scored only 36 per cent in the digital skills assessment, lower than agriculture (38 per cent) and public sector (37 per cent).

Speaking of the report Suzanne Delaney, Head of Digital, Ogilvy and Mather says:

“The report identifies some of the key challenges we are facing in the marketing and advertising sector and the impact of technology on brands, media and business. Today's digital sector could potentially play a huge role in driving a sustained economic recovery but for this to happen it is important to think of long and short -term solutions. This includes embedding digital into business strategy, teaching digital skills and analytics, offering work experience and encouraging companies to take on apprentices all of which will help close the gap and build digital competencies.”

Delaney's point is echoed by Dodson: “We have a raft of digitally proficient graduates looking to build on-the-job experience and a huge number of small businesses without the resource to grow digitally. We urge the government to consider a programme which marries these two groups together whereby graduates can apply their digital skills within small businesses through an internship, and effectively create their own jobs by demonstrating the real return on investment for the business.”

Other notable findings

The Irish Digital Skills report uncovers some other interesting insights including how millennials and women lead the way in digital marketing skills. The gap between skill levels in the capital versus the rest of the country is also highlighted.

- Digital marketing skills decline steadily with years of marketing experience. Entry-level marketers were 26 per cent more proficient than their senior counterparts with over 20 years' marketing experience.

- Irish women are adopting digital marketing skills more quickly than men - their results were 11 per cent stronger than their male counterparts.

- Dublin has notably higher digital marketing skills than the rest of the country - scoring an average of 59 per cent versus a 37 per cent average across all other counties.

- Outside of the marketing and technology industries, among the most digitally savvy professionals are Hospitality & Leisure (46 per cent), Financial Services (41 per cent) and Agriculture (38 per cent). Those working in Retail (36 per cent) and the Food and Beverages score among the lowest (30 per cent).

- Ireland's weakest digital marketing disciplines are online advertising (39 per cent), email (41 per cent) and social marketing (41 per cent). Results were notably better in mobile marketing (47 per cent), the most rapidly emerging digital marketing discipline.


In answer to how we can protect Ireland's digital economy and ensure a pipeline of skilled professionals, Dodson says:

“That Ireland is facing a looming digital skills shortage is undeniable. We need to fundamentally adapt the way we view learning in Ireland. We are still reliant on an outdated model whereby the vast majority of our education is concluded by the age of 21. A true learning society is one where people don't just view education as an event but as a habit, a muscle that needs exercising. Then and only then can we

ensure that our workforce's skills are continually servicing industry needs and we are poised to take advantage of new opportunities as they happen.” is the Digital Marketing Institute's free online diagnostic tool. It measures competency across the primary digital marketing disciplines and produces a personalised report on areas of strength and weakness.

A full report more detailed quotes and statistics can be found at: Digital Skills Report

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Media Contact

Bernice Burnside, Bvisible Communications, +353 1 845 2401 / +353 87 2337366 /

Rachel Byrne, Digital Marketing Institute, +353 1 531 1200 / +353 87 1927236 /

Additional quotes:

Mark Millard, Managing Director, RMG says: “The Digital Industry in Ireland is highly ambitious, with some very talented people. However, there are simply not enough of them. The DMI Digital Skills Report clearly speaks to this. In that context, the work of the Digital Marketing Institute in seeking to directly address this is something that RMG are delighted to be a part of.”

About the study

Dates conducted: 10th May - 12th August 2014

Sample size: 622 business respondents - 380 Irish, 242 international marketing professionals. All respondents have a responsibility for marketing within their business.

The assessment: 54 questions, taken directly from the Digital Marketing Institute Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing exam.

Digital marketing disciplines assessed: digital marketing strategy and planning, mobile marketing, search marketing, display marketing, email marketing and social media marketing.


1 Entry-level competency capability is denoted by a pass rate (or 60 per cent) in the Digital Marketing Institute's Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing - an SQA/QQI accredited course designed and validated by its Syllabus Advisory Council, whose members include Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Google, and now the global certification standard in digital marketing.

A Pass Rate equals 60 per cent or answering 32 out of 54 questions correctly. Irish respondents answered 22.53 questions correctly on average.

2 UPC / AmarachReport On Ireland's Digital Future

3 Wolfgang Digital Irish e-Commerce Study Q2 2014

About the Digital Marketing Institute

The Digital Marketing Institute is the global certification standard in digital marketing education, producing more graduates trained to a single digital marketing standard than any other certification body.

The Digital Marketing Institute works with global digital experts and leaders to define the skills and qualifications required by today's digital marketing professionals, certifying candidates to Diploma, Postgraduate and Masters levels all over the globe.

The Digital Marketing Institute now certifies digital professionals through the following channels:

Online: Where students can study for certification directly with the Digital Marketing Institute through online learning

Licence: Where the Digital Marketing Institute licences its syllabus to an approved third party organisation to teach the content on its behalf

Corporate: Where the Digital Marketing Institute offers access to its learning library to enterprise level corporates and delivers tailored certification programmes

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