We recently connected with agency leaders to gain a market understanding of how people were thinking about the development of their team digital skills both during this Covid 19 crisis and beyond.
31 respondents from search, social media, creative/design, marcoms and data science/analytics agencies from across the UK shared their thinking. We followed up with one-to-one interviews to consolidate the findings.
What did we find?
This unique situation has thrown a spotlight on how businesses support their people. Understandably, most focused on health and wellbeing in the immediate term. However, as the lockdown took hold and businesses secured their immediate future by utilising government support (i.e. furlough and CBILs), thinking then moved on to what the future will hold and ensuring that everyone is rightly equipped to accommodate the likely changing requirements of their clients.
- 75% of agency leaders felt that further developing the digital skills of their business was either critical or important in a post Covid world. They have a desire to invest in the digital skills development of their people either now during lockdown or immediately upon returning to some form of normality.
- Respondents were aware that improving skills and knowledge could help them flex with their clients’ changing needs, help drive incremental campaign performance, justify their rate card and ultimately protect their client relationships.
- However, with regards constraints, more than 50% were concerned about releasing their team members time in order to have them complete the learning required.
- And as you might expect, over 75% were concerned about the lack of readily available budget to invest at this time.
What appears to have changed?
The recent experiences everyone has had of working remotely has given people confidence of the ability to do more digitally and hence, respondents were no longer wedded to classroom-based learning, in fact they are now favouring a mix of online or distance-based learning augmented by tailored one-to-one coaching from experts.
So what are some possible solutions?
There is now a plethora of online courses available from many of the platforms and vendors i.e. Google (https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalgarage) and HubSpot (https://academy.hubspot.com) both short and longer-term in nature. It’s clear that agencies with furloughed employees have been taking advantage of these in lockdown, however, they recognise that they have limited impact. Leaders shared that short courses are more than often generic and untailored to their particular needs and very difficult to evidence as being understood, retained and adding the value that was initially intended.
For the people who stated they want more encompassing longer-term solutions that are more wide-reaching, tailored, accredited and evidence-based – these programmes can attract government funding of up to 95% for SMEs and 100% funding for qualifying levy-paying brands. What we found was that most agency leaders were not aware of their ability to access that funding, confusing it with previous schemes that were only available for 16-19-year-old employees.
Andragogy Managed Learning (www.andragogy.co) offers a curriculum of accredited, blended learning designed by practising digital marketers that has unique ways of measuring impact to individuals and teams by giving data-led insights that evidence the growth of talent. They have also packaged this together with government funding options for agencies in England.
So, what can we conclude?
If you agree with our survey respondents and are keen to enhance your team’s digital skills and abilities to put you in the best position in the post Covid world then maybe now is a great time to get started. The consensus seems to suggest that it the way to go is to source suitable accredited online programmes for your teams that combine distance learning with expert live one-to-one support. If you can also access government monies to fund that learning then that makes the case to move now stronger than ever.