With the digital marketing and communications industry expected to triple in size over the next five years, there is currently a huge demand for skilled digital staff. In an attempt to promote the digital marketing industry as a viable and exciting career option for young South Africans, NATIVE, one of South Africa's largest fully-integrated digital agencies, invited a few students from select tertiary institutions and schools to spend some time 'job shadowing' some of its Johannesburg and Cape Town team members.
Ben Wagner, Head of NATIVE Cape Town, says that one of the main reasons for the increasing demand for skilled digital staff is the lack of new entrants into the digital profession and industry. "This will be a major challenge for the industry as it will have to operationally adapt and manage the growth despite the shortage of skilled and qualified professionals. By allowing young people the chance to experience the day-to-day activities of a few NATIVE team members, we hope to demonstrate the many exciting career options the digital industry has to offer and hopefully attract young local talent," he says.
Red and Yellow Advertising School student, Christopher Schilperoort spent two weeks at NATIVE'S Johannesburg office. Currently completing his post graduate degree in marketing and communications, he spent the majority of his time assisting the NATIVE team with research and insights, competitor analyses, harnessing social media opportunities and brainstorming ideas with the concept team.
"My time spent at NATIVE was most enlightening," says Schilperoort. "The office is filled with a bunch of crazy and friendly people who enjoy each other's company and love what they do. It's like a little family here and I hope one day I'll find my own little family to experience the working world with. It was an awesome experience and a definite taste of what to expect when student life comes to an end."
Erica Basson, a Grade 10 student at Hoer Meisieskool Bloemhof in Cape Town, admits that she isn't sure what career she would like to pursue after school but would ideally like to work in a creative industry. During her day at NATIVE's Cape Town office she spent time with the Social Media Content and Community team and sat in on a Facebook competition brainstorm. "The brainstorming session was a highlight for me and it was really interesting to see how one idea can lead to another. I learnt that it is almost impossible to promote a product without a clear target market," says Basson.
She also spent time with the strategy and concept department and digital strategist Mari Basson took her through a few previous projects to give her a sense of how each digital professional helps to create the bigger picture. "After leaving NATIVE I can definitely see myself working in this industry," she adds.
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 says.
"Those looking to follow a career in digital can follow @Native on Twitter, visit native.co.za or facebook.com/nativesa for the latest vacancies as well as visit our LinkedIn page NATIVE SA to gain insight about this exciting industry," says Wagner. "If you'd like to spend time with our team in Joburg or Cape Town email us on . We're looking forward to doing digital with you!" he concludes.
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