COVID-19 has had several detrimental impacts on Australia, one of which is the current skills shortage we are seeing across technology/IT, and across marketing and PR/communications.  

This skills shortage has seen many brands scrambling to fill roles, which has significant impacts on business growth, not to mention the economy overall. 

Given Hotwire works across both the comms and technology spaces, we are seeing this skills shortage on two fronts. Rather than addressing shortages with recruiting only, we have committed to upskilling of our existing talent pool to build capability. 

Why is this happening? 

There are a number of reasons for this skills shortage. A lack of international and country-wide migration is the most significant cause. 

Another big cause is some businesses made positions redundant in 2020 to save on costs, lacking the foresight to see those positions would be vital to business growth once the economy recovers. This is true of marketing and PR roles in particular, because these roles are still seen by a shortsighted few as non-essential. 

However, we know nothing could be further from the truth, marketing and PR comms feed directly into the sales pipeline, and inform innovation. Now, as some brands try to recruit these positions back, they are finding they can’t find enough skilled people to fill open roles, putting them behind the growth curve. 

Both the above skills shortage reasons have also been exacerbated by ‘The Great Resignation’, something my colleague Jen Dobbie wrote about here. This is the career change being undertaken by younger generations who are dissatisfied with the experience being offered to them by traditional business models. 

So how bad is it? 

Hays reports across marketing and PR, there are significant shortages in CRM and loyalty managers, creative and content managers, digital marketing experts, and ecommerce managers. Across IT, nearly every data and insights job roles have huge shortages of skilled staff. All these roles are vital for brand growth.  

Business Insider reports there has also been a 60% increase in the number of businesses reporting they cannot find staff over the past three months. The most common reason, reported by almost three in four businesses, was a lack of applicants. This was followed by 66% of respondents who said applicants did not have the required skills. 

What can we do? 

Given Hotwire works across technology, marketing, comms and PR, we have seen the effects of these skills shortages first hand. 

Hotwire undertook significant growth in 2020 across branding, marketing and communications, telling the people-first tech truths to make technology brands irresistible, and we also found it difficult to recruit staff across key job titles. It’s clearly a candidates’ market and we don’t anticipate this will change in the near future. 

So, what are we doing to fill these gaps? 

Luckily, Hotwire, via our parent company Enero, has always had a robust training program for employees. 

We believe upskilling existing PR agency employees and progressing them through our organisation, while giving them career-boosting training in complementary skills, is key to both employee satisfaction, and the current skills shortage. 

It is the practical, on-the-job training where we see our employees really start to shine. And as we move through this skills shortage, we believe lifetime upskilling is going to be vital for every Australian. 

While tertiary education is important in many sectors, we at Hotwire do not believe it is the be all and end all of training. In fact, technology and marketing are changing at such as rapid pace, it could be argued learned skills are outdated within a few years. 

Instead, we encourage lifelong learning and upskilling at Hotwire, and are finding this is a great solution to both staff attrition, and the skills shortage. 

We offer several training programs across Enero staff can access for free, including personal and business skills, and will also support employees in training outside of the company. 

In this way, we can recruit for specific skills from within our existing staff pool, while also satisfying employees’ need to grow in their careers.

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