UNCOVERING HIDDEN TALENT
Digital membership organisation British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) and digital agency SapientNitro revealed a widening digital skills gap between companies and prospective employees in a new study of 272 digital agencies. The research, carried out by Censuswide, also confirmed worries over the impact of the Brexit vote on talent diversity in Britain.
With 3.5 vacancies per digital agency and eight weeks in which to find the right person to fill these positions on average, there is a need to inspire and train future digital talent. BIMA’s Digital Day, supported by iDEA, (the Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award), was created to tackle this issue and encourage secondary school students from all backgrounds to pursue digital careers. Held on 15 November this year in association with Tata Communications and Standard Life, the annual nationwide initiative sends digital professionals back to school and exposes 5000 students, including underprivileged behavioural and special needs schools, to the digital industry.
Nigel Vaz, CEO EMEA for SapientNitro and Razorfish, says, "The skills gap is one that is challenging the digital industry, with thousands of desirable positions going unfilled across the country. As companies address the challenge of reimagining their business for a digital age, this skills gap is both damaging to the growth of British industry, and means that many talented people are missing out on rewarding jobs due to a lack of modern skills. As an industry, with Digital Day we are looking to do our bit to combat the skills gap and encourage the next generation to consider the digital industry for a rewarding, varied and viable career."
Following the Brexit vote, 47% of survey participants say it will be harder to attract non-British talent. Additionally, 90% of digital agencies have at least one non-British European employee. The survey also revealed a diversity problem across firms, with 18% stating their company is 100% white, and only 6% stating their agencies are more than 50% female.
Bridget Beale, managing director at BIMA says, "Our research underlines the importance of programmes like Digital Day. Agencies are already crying out for diverse talent; and they are clearly worried that Brexit will further narrow the talent pool. Our message to young people in schools all across the UK is simple: we have jobs for you – and they’re some of the most fulfilling and exciting jobs in the world."
The digital industry as a whole contributes £118.3bn to the country’s gross value added and employs 1.4m people, according to Tech City UK, of which the digital agency landscape constitutes a large portion.
The digital and creative sector is expected to new 1.2m new workers between 2012 and 2022 to accommodate growth and fill in the void for workers who leave the sector. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) also found that the digital sub-sector is expected to need more than half a million new highly skilled workers during this time, raising concerns about the quantity of graduates needed. By educating and introducing young students to an exciting, fast-paced industry early on, BIMA’s D-Day initiative addresses this issue so that students will be more likely to consider careers in the digital industry.