Digital growth creates new career opportunities

South Africa is in the midst of a digital boom. Most marketers agree that there has been a dramatic increase in spend on digital marketing activities and online advertising over the past two years, with major brands spending between 5% and 10% of total ad spend on online advertising.
This is substantially higher than Nielsen's Adex figures are reporting, purely a result of many publishers, including Google, not disclosing their ad revenues.

A recent study conducted on mobile media consumption (InMobi & Decision Fuel, Mobile Media Consumption Research, Feb 2012), indicated that people are spending an average of 43 minutes or 11,3% of their day using online newspapers, magazines, radio, television and web browser platforms. This increases to 113 minutes or 29,7% when taking into account mobile web browsing only. Combined these figures indicate that 40,9% of the public's total day's media consumption is taking place online.

Studies predict that digital marketing will triple in size over the next five years, which, according to Ben Wagner, Chief Marketing Warrior at NATIVE, "will be a major challenge for the digital industry as it will have to operationally adapt and manage the growth despite the shortage of skilled and qualified professionals."

There is currently a huge demand for skilled and specialised digital staff in the wider marketing and communications industry and the time is ripe to see a major push in developing digital skills in the country. "Not only are we battling with limited resources to manage the demand but we are equally concerned about the lack of new entrants into the digital profession."

Digital skills are indeed scarce. "Salary bands have been steadily increasing, particularly for specialist roles. Stiff competition to retain staff has led to even greater importance being placed on employment perks and the development of an exciting and vibrant agency culture," says Wagner.
Wagner also points out that there is a significant lack of previously disadvantaged individuals' (PDI's) talent coming through the ranks with most of these hires filling mainly administrative roles in agencies. "We are finding that while there are only a few organisations offering the skills training required for the digital industry, there is a general lack of training options available for those looking to enter the industry. While some agencies have stepped up and started training institutions for prospective employees, a gap still exists in finding the right calibre of digitally-trained professionals," he says.

In light of the forecasted growth, the talent pool needs to expand. Wagner believes the answer lies in three interlinking areas, namely schools, tertiary institutions and the government generating public awareness around the enormous growth in digital and the potential this has to create job opportunities.

"Digital marketing needs to be promoted as a viable and exciting career opportunity, backed by the provision for sufficient education and training opportunities. These programmes need to be implemented and driven at school and tertiary institutions as well as formal and informal training outlets. Government needs to be lobbied by the wider advertising, communications and digital marketing industry bodies so that further support can be given, which to date has mainly been given to the ICT and telecommunications industries. Action needs to be taken now before the digital industry grows any further and the skills shortage worsens," he concludes.

29 May 2012 10:34

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