Bridging the Digital Experience Gap for Graduates

PushON | April 15th 2015

Picture this. You’re a student in your final year. It’s just hit you that the last installment of student finance is right around the corner. All too soon you’re going to find yourself cast out into the big wide world. You remember the whole point of coming to university was to get employed. You start panicking.

Oh yes, it’s the time of year when many final year students start gearing up for the job search. The problem is that much of their effort comes very late in the game, despite increasing demand for new talent. Though there are roughly 8000 businesses in Manchester’s digital and creative sector, with around 40% looking to recruit additional staff over the next 12 months, those without experience have little to bring to the table during the application and interview process. A recent audit found that whilst 80% of the industry is experiencing growth, many struggle to find the right people to fill roles.

Jonny Pennington (Online Marketing Team Leader at PushON) pinpoints the kind of experience they typically find to be missing from graduate candidates’ repertoires –

“Specifically for us, we’re seeing a real lack of PPC and SEO talent. It’s particularly tough if we’re hiring for a junior role. People either have no experience, or they’re overqualified for the role.”

So what can the industry to do to fix the problem?

The answer is pretty simple – become more involved with the universities. PushON work closely with David Edmundson-Bird at Manchester Metropolitan University. He runs DSMMCM [Digital and Social Media Marketing Communications Management] – a unit available to students on courses in the Marketing, Operations and Digital Business Department.

The unit is very hands-on and students begin developing practical skills from day one. They explore factors of successful digital and social media marketing management and are encouraged to stay up to date with news across the digital sector. This is evidenced in post updates on blogs run by the students, which also give them the opportunity to develop stronger copywriting skills and evolve information presentation techniques. These blogs also play an integral role in the SEO cup – a competition in which students vie to get their blogs at the top spot in the Google SERPs for a specified keyword (DSMMCM1415). As an MMU alumni (and previous SEO Cup champion!) Jonny introduced PushON to the unit, and this year they decided to sponsor the competition.

It was the best module I did. The theory side of the course is obviously useful, but DSMMCM is so practical. It can literally get you a job. And it’s definitely good for us to have that connection with the university. We can introduce students to the digital industry in Manchester and have direct access to a promising talent pool when we’re recruiting for junior roles. Students on the unit are more likely to be interested in digital and have the passion that we find so valuable.”

The business also supports SASCON – a Search, Analytics and Social Conference founded by PushON MD Simon Wharton. It takes place every May/June and is hosted at Manchester Metropolitan University. SASchool is run as part of the conference, and delivers a day of introductory training from leading practitioners in digital marketing to aspiring marketers, PRs, advertisers, designers and coders.

Georgina Fox

Final year student at MMU

One third of DSMMCM1415 agency Holla! Digital

To read more on what Jonny said about careers in digital, there’s an extended interview over on the Holla Digital site!