The Digital Talent Gap Series: Sustainable Marketing Apprentice Programs


The article discusses the vast gap marketing execs and agencies are finding between the talent pool and the talent needed. Our last response will be from Lisa Hillmer-Poole, Account Manager at Carbon8. Lisa has worked with Carbon8 for just over 2 years.

At Carbon8, we're always circulating our fun finds from the web and sometimes they spark a real conversation (read: heated discussion). That is exactly what happened when we found the infographic posted on AdWeek, There Is a Digital Talent Gap by Lucia Moses.

At the risk of dating myself, I offer a vignette from the olden days of film photography, and the long apprenticeship required to rise through its professional ranks. When I graduated college, I was thrilled to immediately secure a position with the storied architectural photography firm, Hedrich Blessing. (They shot Falling Water! FALLING WATER!) With 80 years of collective knowledge and skills to pass on to new assistant photographers, Hedrich Blessing did not look for candidates that were experienced, hard-wired in their methods and ready to plug and play. Rather, they more realistically sought out young photographers with a talented eye, an enthusiastic attitude and a willingness to put in the time necessary to truly learn their craft. The wages were not high, but in exchange for their tenure, assistants travelled internationally, photographed ground-breaking architecture by celebrity firms and ultimately gained the definitive expertise required to compete in the space. 

Is the apprenticeship model a perfect formula? Of course not. Do employers take advantage of employees willing to work long hours for low pay, competing for years for the few senior roles that will become available during their time at the organization? Absolutely.

However, there must be a middle ground to be reached, if companies are to combat the issue addressed in the article.

If there truly is "a vast gap between the digital marketing expertise needed...and the talent actually available to them", as well as "insufficient focus on grooming talent, training and formally assessing skills", then the responsibility lies with the company to cultivate better training processes and a more prevalent mentorship program. Organizations cannot expect new employees to both "hit the ground running" and experience "sufficient grooming."

If resources are stretched so thin that there is no time for a true apprenticeship, then expectations for even a proper on-boarding are unrealistic, the lack of knowledge exchanged will create a cycle of ignorance, and the gap between experience and needs will continue to widen. Allowing both mentors and protégés the time required to learn from each other will multiply the organization's collective intellectual assets, which will compound as new employees are added.

The statement, "Young hires suffer from an inflated sense of entitlement" smacks of Bye Bye Birdie to me.

Kids! They are just impossible to control.

Kids! With their awful clothes and their rock an' roll!

Why can't they be like we were,

Perfect in every way?

Patience and humility come with experience. Besides, good employees, young or old, find value in learning new skills, collecting new experiences and building new personal and professional relationships. An entirely "learn on the job" environment isolates new and existing team members and leads to misinformation, frustration and resentment. Fostering a culture of guidance stimulates the cumulative growth of company knowledge and skills, creates lifelong friendships, and helps construct attainable roadmaps for mutual professional success.

Lisa Hillmer-Poole

Lisa Hillmer-Poole is the VP of Accounts at Carbon8 with more than 18 years of combined agency and in-house marketing experience. Lisa partners with Senior Agency Management, Account Managers and clients to strategize, develop and execute long-range communications and digital marketing plans. Serving as liaison between her team and Development, Design, Search, and Senior Agency Management, Lisa plays a key role in developing the next generation of account management talent at Carbon8.

share this