150,000 digital jobs forecast – but few have the skills to fill them

4 Sep 2014

With 150,000 new digital jobs forecast for a €21bn digital economy by 2020, there may be trouble ahead – 83pc of marketing people are failing entry-level digital competency tests.

A report from the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) in Dublin reveals that 83pc of people with a marketing remit failed to achieve entry-level competency and also scored 34pc lower than their international colleagues.

The Digital Marketing Institute assessed 622 people (380 in Ireland) by asking them 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 30pc lower than entry-level competency – that expected of a junior digital executive, or anyone undertaking basic digital campaigns tactics for a business.

With a predicted 150,000 digital jobs and an internet economy worth €21.1bn by 2020, co-founder and director of the DMI, Ian Dodson, believes 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.” 

Barrier to growth

Ian Dodson, co-founder and director of The Digital Marketing Institute

Last month, we reported that digital marketing giants such as Google, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft have warned that the under-availability of digital marketing competencies is a barrier to growth.

“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. 

The economic threat posed by Ireland’s failure to keep pace with other countries is further highlighted by recent figures showing how more than 60pc (€3.6bn of €5.9bn) of Irish people’s online spend is currently going overseas.

In the retail sector alone, online revenues are growing at more than 20 times the rate of traditional high-street retail business, but digital skills are not keeping pace.

The DMI study reveals that marketing professionals in the retail sector scored only 36pc in the digital skills assessment, lower than agriculture (38pc) and public sector (37pc).

"Digital marketing has revolutionised the way business connects with their target market,” says Twitter’s director of sales for the UK and Ireland Don O’Leary.

“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.”

Digital skills image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist. He joined Silicon Republic in 2002 to become the fulcrum of the company’s news service He was recipient of the Irish Internet Association’s NetVisionary Technology Journalist Award 2005 and Siliconrepublic.com has been awarded ‘Best Technology Site’ at the Irish Web Awards seven times. In 2011 he received the David Manley Award commending him for his dedication to covering entrepreneurs. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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