I lament the price of a pint. Mind you, that’s been the case for some time. At least chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Budget 2017 came with scant major surprise this afternoon, particularly that alcohol duty won’t go up any more than what we already knew.
Despite the uncertain long-term outlook, the UK’s was the second fastest growing economy in the G7 in 2016. Clearly we want to stay our course as we head into choppy Brexit-coloured waters. What we have is a whole heap more investment into our digital infrastructure, and £500 million for technical and vocational training to tackle the UK skills shortage, in particular to future-proof what we now refer to as the ‘digital economy’.
The UK’s was the second fastest growing economy in the G7
This boost to the UK’s digital economy comes off the back of our government hoisting the mainsail on its digital transformation strategy last month, which included announcements to invest in digital infrastructure and to support digital-centric businesses and start-ups. So again, none of this comes as any real surprise, but we are officially now all hands on digital deck.
Future-proofing the ‘digital economy’
The creative economy
The creative industries, from the arts, to fashion, to publishing, to the digital creative sector like our good selves, continue to be the UK’s big economic driver. Creative is the fastest-growing part of our economy – it’s our big-selling and, crucially, our Brexit-proof product at a time where the prospect of further good economic growth is muddied by the fact that we haven’t actually left the EU yet.
In any case, it’s what we do best as a nation. Indeed, the Department for Media, Culture & Sport said in its executive summary last week: “[The UK’s] fusion of digital and creative expertise… gives us the leading edge.”
The Guardian recently reported that the creative industries contribute £90bn net to GDP, they account for one in 11 jobs (a rate rising far quicker than other parts of the economy), and these are also the jobs least likely to fall foul of automation – something I discussed in a blog recently – a threat that this Budget incidentally sought to temper by focusing training in the most progressive areas.
A fusion of digital and creative expertise
Hordes of employers have signalled the urgency with which we need home-grown talent, especially with Brexit looming. There will be investment in technical courses, at school level and terms of boosting professional training. Cyber security training will likely get a big push, too.
Digital skill is almost universally at the creative’s heart. Take our business: devising a content marketing strategy as a concept and coming up with the campaign ideas aren’t digital skills, per se, but contained within them are a plethora of digital needs. We know that it’s not enough to simply have a compelling idea in creative marketing, for instance – you need to be a savvy data scientist that can analyse its performance, segment audiences and choose the right digital channels to reach those audiences, manage every facet from your back-end control centre (or… you know… your laptop), then after all that you need the intuition that can turn your digitally-realised insights into newer, better ideas. And then it takes a whole new platter of skills to bring all elements and disparate departments together into a cohesive user or customer experience.
It’s for these reasons that I say data-led creative content in its many forms plays a very important role in any digital transformation. And as digital transformation is on the priority list for most UK companies these days, I think we’re going to see more of an unmet need in creativity come to the fore.
Turn your digitally-realised insights into newer, better ideas
Technical hiring processes
Indeed, as we as an agency are all too familiar, the digital skills talent shortage extends just as much to the hiring of talent. From a recruitment marketing standpoint, not only do we need the technical skills and corresponding content strategy skill to manage a multimedia-based recruitment campaign, companies also need to show that they are an employer that has a team with the kind technical ability and foresight that would be likely to woo over any prospective star performers.
Creative content plays a very important role in a digital transformation
Given that the UK digital transformation now fully has the wind in its sails, the need to combine technical nous with creative thinking is more important than ever to steer us through a potentially rough sea. What this does all mean is that there is probably a whole generation of kids below me who are being trained in my job and probably some extra digital skills that I don’t have, or that probably don’t even exist yet. I might go and have that pint now while I can still afford it.