Job crisis hits digital agencies as talent pool dries up

technology_11The UK is not only facing a shortage of lorry drivers, care workers and hospitality staff, digital marketing agencies have also been hit by a recruitment crisis, with over half struggling to find candidates with the right expertise and two-fifths fearing a widening skills gap in the industry.

So says the annual digital agency survey by content creation specialist Verblio, designed to provide insight into the industry during the past year, including the effects on the sector of Covid-19 in terms of recruitment, skills and tools.

It reveals that, despite the pandemic, the vast majority of those surveyed said their agency had seen an increase in business over the past 12 months, with nearly three-quarters (71%) agreeing that demand for content specifically had grown.

A similar proportion (75%) expect revenue generated from content to increase over the coming year, with just 3% believing it would decrease, with agencies, on average, gaining over nine new clients over the past 12 months and losing less than four.

When it comes to the most sought-after skills, search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) were top dogs, for nearly three-quarters (71%) of respondents; they were followed by creative thinking and ideation (65%), copywriting (58%) and data analysis (42%), with social media and paid social media advertising (27%) in joint fifth place.

However, while more than two-thirds (67%) of agencies have hired during the pandemic, more than half (51%) said they have had difficulty finding people with the right skills and a similar number (52%) said they have struggled to even bring in contractors. This shortage of candidates has raised concerns among a significant proportion (39%) who fear the industry skills gap is growing.

Verblio CEO Steve Pockross said: “Despite a crazy year like 2020, agencies continue to see the value in content marketing and it’s encouraging to learn that so many hired during the pandemic, with SEO coming in as the most desirable skill.

“But struggle to find the right people for the job and growing concerns about a skills gap, it’s clear more needs to be done to upskill teams and attract more talented individuals to the industry.”

According to the Demand for Skilled Talent report by recruitment specialist Robert Half, published in June, nearly nine in ten (86%) UK firms feel confident about H2 growth prospects with digital, data and communications skills among the most in demand.

It also highlighted that the biggest factor standing in the way of growth was the struggle to find employees with the right mix of skills, with the majority of firms focused on reskilling and upskilling employees to meet evolving business needs and opportunities brought on by the pandemic.

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