Ian Dodson

Irish companies get failing grade on digital skills

Ian Dodson, Digital Marketing Institute

22 September 2016

The most significant drop in skills since 2014’s survey was in the mobile category with a test result of 40% on average, down from 47%. There were also reductions in skills in search (37% v 41%), display (35% v 39%), strategy (38% v 40%), e-mail (38% v 40%) and social media (37% v 40%).

Older participants aged over 50 (39%) and aged 34-49 (40%) performed better than their younger counterparts, aged 18-34 (34%).

Participants in Dublin (42%) fared better than non-Dublin (37%), although there was a sharp drop in the capital, down from 48% in 2014. Overall, self-employed participants fared best of all (43%), compared to those employed full-time (36%) and part-time (34%).

The report also highlights a worrying discrepancy between self-perception and the reality of digital skills levels in Ireland and abroad. In contrast to the test results, when surveyed, 59% of respondents in Ireland believe themselves to be ‘very or fairly competent’ at digital marketing skills. The younger the respondent, the more competent they believe themselves to be.

The survey also reveals marketing professionals in Ireland to be the least confident about their organisations’ overall digital skill levels, with 59% more likely to agree that their organisation ‘is involved in digital marketing, but not very competent’, compared to their counterparts in the USA (47%) and the UK (46%).

Only one in four marketers (25%) said their company had offered them training in digital marketing, slightly more than the UK (20%) and the USA (18%).

The extent to which organisations offer digital marketing training support depends greatly on the size of the organisation, with six out of 10 workers in larger organisations (250 employees and 51-250 employees) receiving some support compared to smaller businesses, with 37% (11-50 employees) and 24% (1-10).

Challenges and the future
A lack of resources is cited as the single greatest challenge to improving digital skills within organisations, according to respondents in Ireland (60%). The issue is only slightly less prevalent in the UK (50%) and the USA (47%).

55% of professionals in Ireland say the pace of technological change within their organisations is too slow with the US (49%) and the UK (46%) in agreement.

Irish workers (72%) followed by the counterparts in the USA (63%) are also most likely to agree that becoming ‘more digitally focused will be critical to their organisation in the next two years’. Some 80% of Irish workers believe they need to improve their digital skills for their careers to progress.

A total of 30% of Irish marketing professionals say yes when asked if they believe it is likely that their jobs would be replaced in the next 30 years by robots and/or computers, compared to the USA (31%) and the UK (24%).

Ian Dodson, founder and CEO of the Digital Marketing Institute (pictured), said: “Ireland’s digital marketing skills base has dropped since 2014. One could argue that the field has become more complex as it develops, but it is both disappointing and a cause for concern that general digital marketing skill sets remain low and have continued to fall over the last two years.

“There is huge potential for Ireland Inc to benefit from the EU’s plan to harmonise regulations and create a single digital economy in Europe. This must not become a lost opportunity through a declining skills base.”

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