“Call to arms”: DMA campaign tackles digital skills gap, urges Government and industry to prioritise talent

Pilot of new campaign will see DMA members introduce one hour a week training and learning for teams, and prompts an approach of “treating our workforce as we would our customers”.

The UK’s Data and Marketing Association (DMA) has announced a new campaign to address the digital and data skills crisis in the UK, help to professionalise the industry and “fuel future growth in the UK’s digital economy”.   

The campaign seeks to address significant gaps in data and digital skills – already at crisis point, the association highlights – and promote a culture of continuous learning across the industry. 

“We want to drive responsible growth through the professionalisation of our industry,” said Rachel Aldighieri, DMA Managing Director.

“Micro-upskilling” – central to both acquiring and retaining talent

Speaking to PMW, Aldighieri said the campaign was a “call to arms” with a focus on building a structured and continuous learning culture in the industry.

As part of the campaign, the DMA is engaging with a number of member organisations to pilot “micro-upskilling” as an integral part of their working culture – in practice no less than one hour a  week of dedicated training across their teams. The pilot members include a mix of brands, agency and technology firms. 

"A ‘little and often’ mentality creates a habit that can fit around other responsibilities without damaging productivity" - Rachel Aldighieri, DMA

A recent DMA poll revealed that 70% of professionals upskilled less than one hour a week and the initiative is to showcase the benefits “micro-upskilling” individuals have for both growth in business and employee satisfaction. 

“Treating our workforce as we do our customers”

The DMA will also be liaising with its members over the coming months to seek their input on adding another pillar to the DMA Code, centred around people. This would specifically cover two prongs – skills and development and diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). 

The association will be looking to develop this in partnership with the DMA’s Talent and Responsible Marketing committees, with Aldighieri explaining that it promotes the ethos of members to ensure they employ the same “customer first principle underlying the DMA Code to their workforce”. 

DMA urges Government to prioritise talent development – not inspire budget cuts

Talent development has now hit crisis point and businesses and the Government should be prioritising it, the DMA said. While businesses are being called upon to invest in their people, the association is also urging the Government to deliver a more joined-up National Data Strategy to promote the careers in the industry that talent with creative, data and digital skills can thrive in. 

In response to the Government's call to businesses to cut prices for consumers – with implications of this coming at the expense of marketing budgets, the DMA asks the Government to take a front-row seat in upskilling and reskilling the nation with creative, data and digital skills.

Aldighieri pointed to using apprenticeships and retraining schemes as routes for talent acquisition – “looking beyond the traditional'' – but cited the difficulty “without the training and development to do the job”.