A common challenge for all marketers is recruiting and then retaining high quality digital talent, especially with the talent pool being relatively shallow according to a recent study entitled The State of Digital Marketing Talent, which sheds copious light on the situation.

One of its key findings is that there is a big gap between what employers value as far as digital marketing talent is concerned, and the talent that’s actually available to them.

1,200 marketers from around the world were interviewed for the study, the findings of which show that among nearly all of them, the demand for high-quality marketing talent is strong at all levels, but the talent pool of people that have the skills to fill that demand is too shallow. The study found that universities simply aren’t training people with the digital marketing skills necessary to keep up with an industry that’s moving extremely fast, making the task of first acquiring and retaining talent more difficult for agencies and brand marketers.

Additionally, the data tells us that there is not enough time being invested into training people on the basic fundamentals of marketing, including email marketing, analytics, social media and so forth. Without the fundamentals in place, most new employees are learning in a “trial by fire” situation, which isn’t good news for their employers.

While the need for more education in digital marketing is seen at every level, the study points to mid-level marketers needing it the most. It pointed out however that, as they’re extremely busy already, most don’t make the time for more formal training and usually get by with limited skills (which can sometimes mean costly mistakes).

The study even revealed that executives are the most unwilling to learn even though it’s vital that they understand how human behavior has changed in the new, digital age.

Another problem the study pointed out is that, when it comes to hiring new people, hiring managers usually don’t have the skills necessary to make educated decisions about who actually qualifies to be an excellent digital marketer. With hiring managers that have limited capacity to understand what they’re actually talking about, candidates can often “sell” their skills even if they don’t have the skills necessary for the particular job. The study suggests that a standardized IQ certificate would allow hiring managers to understand where a potential new hire stands in comparison to others.

One fascinating situation the study pointed out was that younger hires often have a sense of entitlement today, which can cause friction between managers and other employees. Interestingly, all of the news about young entrepreneurs who have “hit it big” has contributed to this attitude but, in many cases, these younger hires don’t have the skills needed to actually “step up” and prove their worth.

The biggest challenge is to deliver sustainable training but, since most universities are providing inadequate digital marketing skills training programs, it’s suggested that businesses must have in-house training that’s reinforced regularly to keep up with the latest practices. While attending webinars, conferences and workshops are helpful, they’re not sustainable. The study authors propose that a consistent e-learning approach from qualified instructors is the best training delivery method available.

In other words, if you want a core group of excellent, high quality digital marketers on your team, don’t expect them to come fully prepared right out of college. You need to put time and effort into training them, make sure that they keep up with their training consistently and also hiring the best qualified people to train them.