Association of online publishers Helping media owners build better digital business

Online publishing skills gap widens

Download the AOP Census 2006members only - AOP members only.

The AOP Census 2006, our latest membership survey, reveals there is a shortage of skills required by the online publishing industry. Seventy-four per cent of AOP members reported having unfilled vacancies in January 2006, compared with 58 per cent in 2005.

We intend to address the shortage in personnel by working with our members to further identify their staffing needs, and with third parties to develop potential solutions to meet demand across the online publishing industry.

Recruitment remains an important issue for many AOP members, even more so than identified in 2005. Publishers rated difficulty in recruitment and retention as one of the biggest constraints on business growth. The healthy expansion of business within the industry continues to create a demand for suitably skilled personnel of whom there is still a limited availability.

The staffing difficulties experienced by AOP members reflect the rapid growth and expansion of the online publishing industry and it would seem that this consistent growth has outstripped supply. Nevertheless, a successful increase in staffing levels underpins the limited resources. This year, 61 per cent of businesses surveyed reported an increase in headcount for their online business compared with 40 percent in 2005. In the last year alone, 429 jobs were created by the organisations surveyed and were further demand to be met, this figure would increase substantially.

The skills shortage becomes particularly prevalent as companies look to fill sales and editorial roles. Fifty-four per cent of those surveyed are recruiting for sales posts while 31 per cent currently have vacancies for editorial staff.

Recruitment difficulties demonstrate the overall growth in the online industry as online publishers require a variety of expertise in order to deliver their content online.

In addition to identifying the skills currently in demand, the research goes on to predict which skills will be important in two to three years time. More than half of respondents (53 per cent) mentioned sales and marketing and 40 per cent anticipated that technical/design skills will increase in importance. Research and analytics are also seen as important skills for the future (20 per cent).

Bill Murray, AOP chairman and managing director of group business information strategy for Haymarket Publishing, comments: "We shouldn't be surprised that as our industry develops at such a pace that there is something of a lag in the arrival of talented, skilled people to help us take advantage. The great news is that there can't be a more challenging, rewarding and dynamic area for people either considering or already developing a career in media than in online publishing. In many respects, our challenge is to make sure we are properly publicising and explaining to the broader employment market just how exciting these opportunities are and just what great brands and businesses they can contribute to amongst our membership."

The research was conducted on behalf of AOP independently by research consultancy Fox Insight.

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