From education to employment

Diversifying entry routes into professional careers like marketing

Mischa McInerney on the FE News Exclusive background

Mischa McInerney, Chief Marketing Officer at the Digital Marketing Institute explores the diverse opportunities available to aspiring professionals looking to enter a career like marketing. Besides university degrees, Mischa discusses how learners today have wider access to more training and qualifications to help them enter the sector.

The routes into professional careers have never been as diverse as they are today. From internships and apprenticeships to higher education degrees, there’s a pathway to suit almost every learner.

The most popular route towards a professional career, however, continues to be university education. Almost 3 million students studied at UK higher education institutions in 2021/22.

The benefits of university are well-known. For most students, it provides more than just a degree; a university education offers life experiences that other routes into professional careers struggle to compete with.

But there are also a considerable number of professional careers that can be accessed without a university degree. There are a myriad of other training or certification methods that can guarantee the same career prospects as a higher education qualification.

The world of marketing

Take digital marketing, for instance. The sector has a breadth of different roles within it and while a marketing-related university education can certainly propel a learner’s career into the industry, there are several high-quality skills and traits that a marketer requires that can be taught in other learning formats.

From short courses to certifications developed alongside industry, learners today have access to more training and qualifications than ever to help them enter the sector – without the need for a university education.

Courses like these are particularly beneficial for industries like marketing, where the sector is modernising and adopting new technologies at a considerable pace.

The introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) is a perfect example. Only five years ago, AI’s role in marketing was relatively rare. While it was certainly being used by large companies like Google for their Google Analytics and other marketing-adjacent offerings, the everyday marketer was very rarely using it in their day-to-day activities.

Fast-forward to today, however, and the situation couldn’t be any more different. Whether it’s content development or data-driven decision making, AI is being leant on more and more by the industry – with hugely beneficial results.

A study from IBM found that 48% of businesses say AI is contributing to making customers happier through enhanced experiences, while a further 54% said companies reported a reduction in costs as a result of the technology.

Overcoming skills shortages

But as with any nascent technology that’s changing how we work, the biggest barrier to full adoption is usually a lack of available skills to successfully implement it into the business. Ongoing learning and development are therefore critical to making sure employees have the skills required to fully harness technologies like AI.

The rapid pace of development of artificial intelligence also makes it challenging for institutions like universities to make sure their courses – which are typically three years or longer – are teaching students the most up-to-date and relevant skills.

That’s why short courses delivered by trusted training providers, which are regularly reviewed and updated in line with a changing industry, can plug an important gap in the education and development of marketers – subsequently supporting employers by making sure their people have the very best skills to make the most of new technologies.

Final thoughts

University education will always have a pivotal role in our society. But it shouldn’t be seen by employers as the only entryway into a sector. With more courses and certifications available for industries like marketing than ever before, employers should capitalise on the different skills and talent that these training methods provide.

By Mischa McInerney, Chief Marketing Officer at the Digital Marketing Institute

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