Technology in all industries is advancing rapidly but growth in the UK economy is in danger of being derailed by a digital skills gap.

Recent figures from a survey by The Tech Partnership reveal nearly three-quarters of large companies and 49% of smaller companies are suffering from a major divide between the skills needed and those the staff currently possess.

Industries, such as PR, media and advertising, now offer exciting digital roles that didn’t exist ten years ago but often complain they struggle to find staff with the right mix of traditional and digital qualities.

There is also still a massive gender imbalance within the tech field with women accounting for less than a fifth of the UK IT workforce.

However, there are now many laudable initiatives set up to help overcome this issue and encourage women to expand their skill sets and help plug the growing gap within the aforementioned industries.

So whether it’s understanding the growing importance of SEO as a marketer or utilising the power of social media within a sales role, we’ve outlined several industries which have been forced to adapt to growing technology trends and now face a skills gap which women have a key role in filling.  

Tackling the skills gap by industry.

Sales and marketing.

Sales and marketing have changed dramatically with analytics software now providing valuable insight into customer habits and targeted sales.

The influence of social media has also grown enormously and sales professionals are now actively engaging with customers on Facebook and Twitter whilst eschewing traditional sales methods.

Of course, this means knowledge of website analytics, search engine optimisation and pay per click usage are gradually becoming essential for most sales and marketing roles.

As the influence of Google and social media continues to grow, we can only expect sales and marketing skill sets to expand and roles to become more digitally focused.  

Rich Wilson, Chief Marketing Officer at Relative Insight, says: “Coding is rapidly becoming a core skill for everyone in digital/marketing so anyone who cannot, will quickly find themselves disadvantaged.”

PR.

PR has evolved to encompass much more than just off-line publications and these days professionals need a mix of account management, networking skills and digital know-how.

Online content is growing in value and importance and PR professionals are beginning to broaden their skill sets to accommodate this renewed focus.

Brian Matthews, co-founder at digital marketing recruitment company, The Candidate, believes that the PR sector is crying out for people with digital skills as training new account managers can be an arduous and time-consuming process.   

Publishing and media.

Not so long ago a love of books or newspapers and knowing how they are created was enough for anyone working in publishing but now they need strong website and content management skills as well as a sound knowledge of SEO. 

The rise of e-publishing, downloadable books, videos and articles has blurred the lines between traditional and digital media. Publishers now need to consider not just the content they publish but how it is delivered across mobiles, apps, blogs etc.

Although the industry is adapting well, there is still a need for tech-savvy staff who are capable of delivering content across these mediums and communicating with readers and influencers in online using a variety of platforms.  

What next? 

With the gaps in these industries becoming more and more apparent, equipping more women with digital skills may well be the answer as well as redressing the gender imbalance in technology.

A recent study by Nominet seems to support this argument as they company revealed that the UK economy could be boosted by a total of £2.6 billion a year if women were more involved in tech-based roles.

There are plenty of initiatives and courses encouraging women to embrace an IT career, even down to coding courses for women on maternity leave who can bring their babies along.

The latest national curriculum also features more compulsory tech subjects than ever before and the European Commission’s eSkills for Jobs campaign is designed to raise awareness among EU citizens about the importance of having good IT skills. 

Never before have there been so many opportunities for women in the digital world. Whether they are just embarking on a career or looking for the next step what is clear is that with the right digital skills there are exciting new roles and responsibilities on offer in every industry.