Emerging Trends in Marketing: The Widening Skill Gap

This is the second in a series of posts on long-term things that will impact your marketing environment, from automation to macroeconomic trends. Keep these trends in mind as you craft your marketing strategy!

One of the more interesting macroeconomic reports to read on a regular basis is the JOLTS report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. This report showcases new job openings, people who quit their jobs, and people who started new jobs. Take a look at this summary chart. What do you see?

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When I look at this chart, I see a job opening rate that is quickly outpacing the rate of both people starting and leaving jobs. A quick look at how fast H1B visa quotas are filled each year tells another part of the story: America has lots of jobs. We just don’t have the skilled people to fill those jobs.

Here’s a third part of the story:

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Those are SAT Mathematics scores by ethnicity since 1986 from the US Department of Education. The visible trend is that across almost every ethnicity except Asians, test scores have plateaued.

The final part of the story is from psychologist E. Paul Torrance, and the Torrance tests of creative thinking:

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These scores measure the creative thinking abilities of US school students. There’s a fairly obvious trend here, too.

All of these data points highlight that the available pool of top talent is shrinking. We have fewer people who excel at mathematics, science, and left-brain disciplines. We have fewer people who excel at creativity and right-brain disciples (especially with the widespread elimination of liberal arts education in primary and secondary schooling). At the same time, we have greater needs than ever in marketing for people who understand analytics and Big Data. We have greater needs than ever for people who can think creatively. Our greatest needs are people who can do both, who can see context and big picture right-brain thinking, then deep dive into linear, logical, left-brain thinking.

Be prepared for smaller and smaller high quality labor choices for people who can hit the ground running in your marketing department. Be prepared to have to grow your own talent and then fight to retain it. These mega-trends are not going to be changing any time soon.


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  • http://www.strategyaudit.com.au Allen Roberts

    Great to see the numbers, albeit for the US. I have seen the same trends in Australia, but have not had the numbers.