Research conducted by Mindworks (a digital training academy launched by digital agency Origin Digital) and recruitment agency Known Four, has detailed some surprising figures about the scarcity of digital marketing talent in NI.

Known Four are relatively new to the technical sector recruitment in Northern Ireland but Mairead Moore, who heads up their Belfast operation has had a wealth of knowledge in this area and comes herself from a traditional Marketing background and has worked in Northern Ireland recruitment for nearly 10 years, has seen an increase in demand since 2015:

“There was an increase in demand in 2016 compared to 2015 for general technical roles.” detailed Mairead.  “I think much of this has been driven by the growth of existing and relocation of firms into Northern Ireland.

 There is a clear skills shortage in middle to senior level digital roles and it is increasingly difficult to source the right candidates.”

Jill Robb, Marketing Director of Origin Digital and Mindworks trainer said:

“We created Mindworks because of the demand for hands-on training for Marketing Managers who, although having academic qualifications in digital marketing, do not have a working knowledge of many of the tools and techniques. This research highlights the skills gap in the market.”

The research (based on anonymous data from over 150 candidates) identified a number of surprising statistics:

  • Only 52% of candidates for digital roles made it to interview stage
  • 62% of candidates had an academic qualification in digital marketing
  • Only 39% actually had on-the-job experience of application of these skill sets / using digital marketing tools
  • The average salary that candidates sought was £33,500
  • The average salary that employers were initially willing to pay: £28,000
  • The average salary actual paid to successful candidates: £28,500

This research shows that whilst digital marketing roles are increasing, as is the competition for the roles, candidates are lacking in hands-on experience and skillsets required for the roles. Over half (62%) had academic qualifications in digital marketing, yet under 40% had experience in using the tools required to implement digital marketing campaigns.

There is also a clear difference in the perceived market value of digital marketing roles from the candidates’ perspective as compared to an employers’ perspective, with employers initially wanting to pay 16% LESS per annum than prospective candidates initially asked for.

The shortage in hands-on implementation skills goes some way in explaining why salary expectations are so varied with many employers expecting candidates to have implementation experience across a wider skill set, yet this not being a skill set possessed by most candidates.

Employers themselves, however are struggling to understand the roles and skill sets required for their digital marketing positions, with over 60% having to change the job descriptions / titles for roles that they initially were recruiting for following initial consultations report Known Four.

Overall employers are finding it difficult to understand the complexities and niches within digital sector roles, whilst candidates are also struggling to obtain the hands-on skills that are required to be effective.

“This misalignment of skill sets to academic qualifications and a focus on skills development was the core driver of us creating Mindworks Training Academy.” said Jill.

“There are many individuals with academic qualifications who are unable to complete required job tasks because although they understand the theory, they don’t know how to use the tools they need on the job.

We developed Mindworks to provide this practical, hands-on training for professionals with digital marketing qualifications to improve their practical knowledge and ability.”

The next Mindworks course (Getting the Right people to your Website- SEO for Busy Managers) is this Thursday 26th and can be booked online


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