Candidate shortages in marketing sector

As Britain suffers its worst candidate shortages on record, industry is bracing itself for a talent famine that will last for years.

by Nick Band

The number of vacancies has passed the one million mark – the highest since record began in 2001.

And it’s not just the transport, hospitality and retail industries facing dire candidate shortages, the marketing industry is also suffering.

We have known for some about the lack of digital skills in the UK- a shortage that has been compounded by Brexit and the rush for digital retail due to Covid.

According to research from LinkedIn, the professional networking site, 150 million new technology jobs will be created in the next five years. Yet nearly 40% of the UK’s working population lack digital skills.

A recent survey revealed that 33 percent of UK organisations had a workforce shortage due to COVID-19, while 44 percent of UK brands say they face a brand leadership talent shortage. Marketers also identify significant candidate shortages in areas ranging from data science to web development, with 37 percent saying they’ve been prevented from developing more personalized marketing campaigns by a shortage of employees with specialized skills in AI and ML.

There has been a vast increase in demand for marketers with social skills, with paid social media rising in demand by 116.4%, according to the data from LinkedIn.

While there has been a rise in demand for more specific digital marketing roles over the past 12 months, the data shows there has also been an increase in more senior positions. We have certainly seen the demand surge here at Future Work.

Roles such as CMO (13.8%), brand director (10.6%) and brand strategist (9.9%) have increased in demand as businesses look to navigate uncertain times.

Interestingly, the Government has put web and graphic design on its skilled worker visa list allowing non-UK citizens to work here.

Employers need to make more effort

Of course, this means employers have to redouble their efforts to retain and attract staff. And we have seen some pretty imaginative and radical solutions from agencies and clients alike. The most common response has been to move to hybrid working where staff are only required to work in the office for part of the week. These initiatives tap into the powerful attitudinal shift in which workers are reassessing the importance of home in a post pandemic society. ( see our blog post).

Many agencies have introduced well being perks aimed at reducing “burn-out”. Last December, Weber Shandwick created Juice, its own employee mental and physical wellness program. It provides a hybrid back-to-work model; discounts for activities to counter stress such as yoga and fitness classes; and monthly cash reimbursements for mental, physical, cultural and lifestyle activities. Weber also provides time and money for staff members to pursue their passions with time-off, travel and remote work options.

The current state of mind amongst workers has been described as the Great Resignation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were nearly four million quits in June 2021 alone as workers sought out new opportunities that offered better alignment with both lives and livelihoods.

45% said they wanted better benefits and 55% pointed to a better work/life balance. In fact, 56% of survey respondents said they would quit if their employer didn’t offer flexible hours and location options, and 66% felt that going back to the office would negatively impact their success — compared to both smaller and larger firms, mid-sized employees said they were the most productive when working from home. Read our blog.