UK marketing emerges stronger from pandemic after reskilling boost

New research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) shows that despite the challenges of the past 20 months, marketers are optimistic for the future growth of the sector. Nine in ten (90%) believe it has a key role to play in the UK’s economic recovery, compared to 85 per cent when asked in 2019.

The latest figures show that six in ten (60%) marketers who were furloughed now feel they have the right mix of skills to succeed. Nearly a fifth (19%) of respondents were on furlough at some point during the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet it appears many invested this enforced downtime in skills development, with half now offering a wider range of services. 

This contrasts earlier findings from 2019 when 87 per cent of people CIM surveyed admitted they worked with marketers who learnt on the job and had little formal training, demonstrating a significant need for improvement in skills for the industry. 

Today’s report is the third and final instalment of CIM’s ‘The Impact of Marketing’, a research series that has spanned the pandemic and explores the impact of Covid-19 on the sector. The series reveals the widespread economic loss for both the marketing sector and its employees, with 69 per cent of agency staff, and 59 per cent of in-house teams reporting reduced demand for marketing activity through 2020 and 2021. 

The latest findings echo the emphasis the Government’s Autumn budget placed on skills, with a £3bn investment in personal development to help the UK economy recover from the pandemic. 

Earlier research carried out in partnership with CIM by recruiter Hays also found that 42 per cent of the 723 polled marketers planned to prioritise upskilling in their current profession. 

Chris Daly, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing said: 

“This latest report reflects the resilience of the marketing profession as it steps up to the challenge of helping the country recover from the pandemic. I am immensely proud that despite personal and professional setbacks, so many across the sector responded with ambition and determination. Covid-19 touched countless lives and livelihoods, and I believe that marketers will have a critical role in shaping an economy that works for both people and the planet.

Despite a significant improvement and broadening in the UK’s marketing skills base since the original research in 2019, the latest figures still identify a clear need for ongoing investment in skills. 

A sizeable minority of respondents in the latest report still feel their skills fall short, with 40 per cent feeling unsure or that they lack the skills to effectively carry out their role to its full potential. It reflects earlier polling from 2019, which highlighted that 39 per cent felt unsure about their capability in tackling upcoming challenges the industry is likely to face in the coming decade. 

The industry’s focus on skills is also reflected in the on-going increase in engagement with CIM, with marketers looking to membership, training and qualifications to upskill and support them in their professional development. With the current recruitment market seeing a high volume of marketing jobs across all areas, but a shortage of candidates with the right skillsets, the need for marketers to prioritise their knowledge and skills is crucial.

Chris Daly adds: 

“The pandemic triggered redundancies across the marketing sector forcing marketing leaders to outsource digital activities and focus on improving core activities such as brand, marketing strategy and communications. It’s not surprising that some of the more technical digital skill sets have decreased over the past year, but the wider picture remains positive.   

“Our sector has always attracted dynamic and creative individuals, and to prosper a professional marketer must be constantly seeking opportunities for personal development. Lockdown saw many of us pivot to new professional and personal priorities, and now is the time to lock in those gains through effective training and development.”

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