Ireland slipping in digital marketing skills race

New study shows six out of 10 Irish professionals feel their organisations are not digitally competent...

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Ireland's digital marketing skills have declined in the last two years, according to a new survey that also shows Irish marketers as having far below the entry-level competency in the field.

Marketing professionals here have an average skill level of a mere 38%, down 4% since 2014. The study, conducted by research firm Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of the Digital Marketing Institute, put Ireland on a par with the UK (37%) and the US (38%). However, a score of at least 60% is needed to reach the base level of competency, highlighting the problems the three nations are having in keeping up with a sector that is only growing in complexity.

In the mobile category, Ireland scored a 40% average, down from 47% in 2014. There were reductions in skills in search, display, strategy, email and social media. 

A majority of professionals feel they are not being helped by their employers, either, with six out of 10 Irish workers saying their organisations are not digitally competent. This is despite seven in 10 feeling that the area is critical to a firm's future.

When it came to the testing, older workers scored higher than their younger counterparts. Those aged between 34 and 39 scored the highest (40%), with the over-50s getting an average of 39% and those between 18 and 34 only getting an average score of 34%.

Participants in Dublin (42%) fared better than professionals elsewhere in the country (37%), although there was a sharp drop in the capital, down from 48% in 2014. 

There was also discrepancy between the skills level and how people perceived themselves to be. When surveyed, 59% of respondents in Ireland believed themselves to be ‘very or fairly competent’ at digital marketing skills. The younger the respondent, the more competent they assumed they were.

The 908 respondents for the report (300 from Ireland, with the other two-thirds divided evenly between the UK and US) were assessed by answering a basic competency test, using a new 54 question diagnostic tool.

“One could argue that the field has become more complex as it develops," Digital Marketing Institute CEO Ian Dodson said, "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.”

Commenting, Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, said:

“Ireland has been at the forefront of the rise of the global digital economy to date with many leading Irish companies successfully competing internationally as well as iconic digital companies setting up operations here.

"However, change also brings its challenges so we must seek to embrace digitisation and ensure that skill levels among our marketing teams are among the best in the EU.”

Click here to read the full report