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Homepage / Bridging the UK marketing skills gap

Bridging the UK marketing skills gap


Marketing is all around us; a thread that weaves through almost all aspects of our daily lives, from the moment we wake and see brand names on our toothpaste, to our journey to work seeing messages encouraging us to try and buy, and on the way home as we discover new products and services via our mobiles.

And yet, marketing as a discipline can be difficult to define. It adapts to changes in society and the technology we use.

What’s more, in the UK, these challenges are compounded by a serious – and growing – skills gap at the senior level, as identified in recent research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

“Our latest research should act as a wake-up call for organisations across all sectors,” says James Sutton from CIM. “With consumer requirements changing, and marketing technologies and social media platforms continuing to innovate at pace, the range of skills expected from management and senior marketing professionals will continue to expand – and there is a real risk of senior personnel being left behind.”

The key issue is that this impacts organisations.

Working in partnership

Fortunately, a new partnership between the CIM and Cranfield School of Management plans to put a halt to the growing crisis by working with employers to deliver the best-in-class skills training needed to upskill senior professionals and create marketing leaders of the future. Together, the organisations have developed a part-time Marketing and Leadership MSc that will be delivered through the CIM’s accredited study centre, the CIM Academy.

Most of the cost of the programme can be paid for using Apprenticeship Levy funds. This makes it an accessible and affordable way for organisations to upskill their employees and teams. Individual participants can also self-finance their studies.

Annmarie Hanlon, Director of the Marketing and Leadership course, said: “This is an applied course, which helps professionals to develop practical skills to take straight back into the workplace. We see students in the classroom who realise how they can use the tools and frameworks to great advantage with their clients and customers. Students also gain greater insights into adopting a strategic approach to elevate their business processes.”

“The programme delivers leading-edge insights into marketing and leadership which students usefully apply to their organisation, ensuring high levels of value at both personal and business levels.”

Bridging the skills gap

Designed to meet the needs of the modern marketer, the Cranfield and CIM Academy Marketing and Leadership MSc provides organisations with the opportunity to upskill their senior personnel through a combination of leading academic theory, commercial insight and practical application. Covering general management functions, specialisms and strategic marketing disciplines, the programme aims to not only develop participants’ leadership skills, but also to enable them to lead change and meet the demands of a changing world and evolving marketplace.

The course is delivered in two parts over 26 months, with those that complete both parts gaining the MSc and the CIM Marketing Leadership Programme, as well as setting themselves on a clear path to a senior leadership role.

Enhancing career prospects

Cranfield alumni who have completed similar programmes have gone on to gain higher level positions, either at their sponsoring organisation or elsewhere. For Jim Davies, studying for the Marketing and Leadership MSc at Cranfield gave him the confidence to leave the ‘comfort zone’ of his job of 12 years and move to an exciting new role in digital transformation at McCain Foods.

He said: “I’m usually pretty risk-averse, but I decided it was time to make a change and do something different. I handed in my notice without any plan of what I would do next, but the morning after my last day I had two job offers.

I think I was absolutely ready to make a move, but the MSc gave me the confidence to take the leap. I’d definitely encourage people to pursue a management apprenticeship,” he added. “You get so much out of it in terms of really growing and developing and building a new network. The course provided me with exposure to new ideas and practices evolving my leadership. It was helpful to step away from the daily delivery to make space for thinking through work challenges, and to get input from a non-work-related group.

If you have the support of your employer, which I did, and really embrace the opportunity, then you have the chance to gain a completely different, really refreshing outlook on business, which is just fantastic.”

Read more about Jim’s MSc studies in our blog on his Cranfield journey.

Benefits for employers

It isn’t just individuals who recognise the value of a management apprenticeship; more and more employers understand the benefits to be gained through investing their Apprenticeship Levy fund for the purpose of developing talent in their industry.

Marketing and advertising agency OLIVER and its parent company IIG (the Inside Ideas Group) are currently sponsoring employees through an in-house version of the Cranfield Marketing and Leadership MSc tailored to the specifics of their business environment, drawing on their Apprenticeship Levy to part-fund the course.

Amina Folarin, Chief Inclusion Officer and Global People Director, said: “We know that to inspire top talent you have to invest in top talent’s professional development.

We’re used to seeing elite business programmes being offered to people working in professional services, yet rarely do we see this happen in advertising, despite the sector’s rapid disruption and continued growth.

Our global leadership team recognised the importance of giving our leading employees the latest knowledge and skills so that, in turn, they can be the best in the industry.

Whether they remain part of our business or not, it is a pleasure to be able to kick-start their learning journey, and we look forward to seeing their careers blossom as a result.”

To find out more about the Cranfield and CIM Academy Marketing and Leadership MSc, you can download the course brochure or get in touch via email.

Cranfield School of Management

Written By: Hayley Rook

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