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Chinwag's Digital Skills Survey at the end of 2007 proved yet again what we all know, that our industry is struggling to find and retain the best candidates which is leading to spiralling wage inflation in our sector, undermining growth and restricting profits. The figures, afterall, speak for themselves:

  • 97% of respondents find it either difficult or impossible to attract the right digital staff for their businesses
  • 57% of respondents reported that the digital skills shortage impeded the growth of their business in 2007
  • 75% of businesses are planning to increase the salaries of digital staff

Given this environment, we thought that our Graduate Academy would prove an enticing offering. While many companies have stepped forward and are currently interviewing some of our graduates, we have also met with one main excuse as to why, even having expressed an initial interest, they are no longer interested.

Was it because they were no longer recruiting?  Was it because they didn't feel the program was useful and would add value? No. It was simply because they couldn't warrant the cost of investing in the program for a graduate.

The program costs £4950 (or £3500 for the training only option) to include:

  • 8 days training (including 5 days residential)
  • E-consultancy managed practical project in digital
  • Full E-consultancy tutor support for 1 year
  • Search and selection of suitable candidates
  • 3 month money back guarantee
  • + more (complete proposal is on our website)

Forgetting the exact pros or cons of our pricing and commercial agenda (and yes, of course we have one) I'm still surprised that this isn't an offer that's of interest to more employers. Given we have 22 graduates who have made it through our intensive selection program and who are looking for work now, I'm surprised that we don't have people knocking our door down. Obviously what people say in public and what they do in reality are not the same.

And this brings me to the main point of this post. Regardless of who is providing the service, how can we as an industry hope to bring in the best talent, if we are simply not prepared to invest in it?

Given that we have to compete for skills with blue chip companies in finance & banking, business, software, advertising etc., who have established track records of investing in graduates (making sure they receive the support and training they need as well as investing in their personal development) is it any wonder then that the brightest graduates are simply not interested?

We have 22 such bright prospects and unfortunately, there is a risk that many of them will choose another industry over ours simply because no one is interested. Can the last person to leave switch off the digital lights please?

Craig Hanna

Published 25 June, 2008 by Craig Hanna

Craig Hanna is a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter.

15 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

Paul Rouke

Paul Rouke, Founder & CEO at PRWDSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Craig,

That is a really poor state of affairs that that your 1st batch of prospects may well end up choosing another industry. I really hope the big brands and agencies out there snap them up.

As an emerging usability consultancy and software development business, my recruitment strategy is very much about investing in top of the line talent, whether that be commercially experienced staff such as my Lead Technical Architect, or our new Marketing and Brand Development Executive, who is 2/3 through her Advertising and Brand Management degree at Manchester Metropolitan University.

With a business vision of building a remarkable brand with remarkable people, I can't afford not to invest in the best talent, which is why we have partnered with Psycuity for our recruitment process to ensure our new employees are truly top of the line, and that their full potential and key strengths can be identified and harnessed.

Complimenting this business development strategy, I recall back to one of our conversations we had over 18 months ago, where you stressed to me the importance of paying what it takes to get the best staff, rather than thinking "what little can you get away with spending to bring in resource when growing a business".

I couldn't agree with you more...! I just sincerely hope that your graduates can find businesses willing to invest in their talents.

over 8 years ago

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Sam Michel

Hi Craig,

I couldn't agree more with the sentiments expressed in your post. I'm not surprised, but slightly depressed by the reaction you've had from companies with your graduates.

There's a couple of reasons I think we're facing an uphill struggle. Digital is still seen as a cheaper alternative to traditional media, and I think (I've not done research but would love the time to do it) this is reflected all the way through media costs to hiring staff. If you add up recruitment and training costs, it's an expensive business and heartily justifies the expenditure.

Secondly, market sentiment appears to be increasingly cautious. We've seen a month-on-month dip in the Digital Pulse:

http://www.chinwag.com/digitalpulse

which tracks market confidence both now and in six months time. Whilst this doesn't play out in the number of vacancies available, or the appetite for staff at all levels, perhaps this is part of the reason you're having troubles.

Given that digital is the least likely to be affected by the current crunch and may even benefit, we're facing our own crunch....but it's staff-related.

over 8 years ago

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