Digital - the answer to the unemployment gridlock


There is no denying that today’s economy has forced all companies, no matter the trade or sector, to rapidly digitalise in keeping up with global trends. On a localised level, South Africa has also faced looming unemployment rates which have certainly not been aided by the rising redundancy of bachelor’s degrees. Yes - you read that correctly. Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mduduzi Manana, recently reported a total of over 600 000 unemployed university graduates in the country, and the number is only expected to go up.

Increasingly, students are walking away with hard-earned University qualifications but are by no means job-ready. The sad reality is that these graduates are then left unmarketable and are forced to slot in line with the rest of our unemployed population.

It’s not all bad news though. The answer is in the very problem itself. We’ve seen an increasing demand to get digital and a need to be savvy in pursuing a future career which is both marketable and in-demand. Keeping this in mind will ultimately equip you to make the the best career decisions and place you on a trajectory that both elevates your skillsets and satisfies your pocket.

Let’s take Digital Marketing for example.

In 2015 a study by US companies Fractl and Moz analysed over 75 000 job listings on to decipher which jobs in the digital marketing sphere were most in-demand – the results were interesting.

The positions most in-demand, such as Digital Marketing Manager and Marketing Manager, were those which required a broader skillset. This was by no means surprising to us. The landscape of digital marketing is constantly changing and the need for digital marketers with both a general and a specific skill set is rising – cue the T shaped marketer.

Don’t get me wrong – these results are significant. But what about South Africa?

We used a very similar methodology but filtered the job listings on to a South African context. We then calculated the number of job listings per job title (such as ‘content manager’ or ‘digital strategist’) and ultimately worked out which positions are currently most in-demand in South Africa. We then aligned these results with the results of an Ad Talent Salary Survey. The final results speak for themselves –

Rightly or wrongly - ‘Marketing Manager’ - is the most in-demand digital marketing title in South Africa today.

While this is by no means a new job position, the rise of digital has transformed the skillset required of the once traditional marketing manager. It is imperative that the modern-day Marketing Manager has a broad-based understanding of digital marketing in order to fully understand and integrate the digital and non-digital elements of a marketing campaign. To put it simply, to keep ahead of the game you need to know digital.

Digital provides invaluable tools to any marketing campaign that, as a Marketing Manager, you’d be crazy to miss out on. Take BrandsEye for example, who use both crowdsourcing and analytics software to track your brand’s online presence and let you know what you’re doing right (...or wrong). You can now more easily understand not only your brand’s online landscape but your competitors’ too - a must-have tool in our opinion.

With the help of these modern marketing tools, the work of a brand manager has been made a lot more quantifiable. It’s no longer a thumbsuck to discern whether your business is gaining positive or negative traction - now there’s proof in the numbers. This means however, that Marketing Managers now require analytical skills in order to gain meaningful insights from data sets which should ultimately translate into well-advised business and campaign decisions.

That aside, we cannot ignore the prominence of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) - following closely behind with 115 job listings. What SEO has that the position of a Marketing Manager doesn’t is marketability and flexibility. With a more specialised digital skill-set such as SEO (or PPC, Social Media etc) you can take your career into your own hands. By freelancing you can work from almost anywhere, for almost anyone and most importantly - you can bring in some foreign bucks. This is the entrepreneurial edge that jobs in marketing management just don’t have.

It’s also the entrepreneurial edge that this country so desperately needs. Annual Job Creation Surveys show that entrepreneurs are hiring at almost double the rate of large corporations. In 2015 for example, the survey showed that 47% of entrepreneurs planned to increase the size of their workplace while only 29% of large corporations planned to do the same. It’s only logical then that the pursuit of entrepreneurship has the potential of offering a much needed boost to employment rates.

So what does this all mean? The world of digital marketing offers a variety of opportunities and solutions to the current unemployment grid-lock we find ourselves in. Jobs requiring a broader skill-set, such as Marketing Management, are clearly in-demand while those with a more specialised skill-set, such as SEO, will give you the tools that you need to optimize your employability, both locally and abroad. It's a skill-set you can take anywhere.

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