Google to to run digital marketing 'apprenticeships'

Sounds like the company isn't impressed at the skills on offer in the UK...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 14 Dec 2011
Looks like Google is extending the hand of generosity (or something like that) to the UK’s ad agencies. According to a report in today’s Evening Standard, the company has approached ad agencies across the UK, inviting graduate trainees to do two- or three-month placements at its offices. Given that figures out yesterday suggested that Google now owns almost half of online ad space, that sounds like an excellent opportunity for those who are selected – although it’s a bit worrying for British tech companies.

According to the Evening Standard, the initiative, known as ‘Square’, will ‘offer e-skills programmes and brainstorm sessions’. Further details are sketchy, but a spokesperson from the company told MT today that the programme would roll out in 2012, and that it ‘aims to assist graduates working at agencies to develop their marketing and business skills’. The idea is, apparently, to address ‘the talent shortage in the industry’.

Obviously, Google wouldn't say this directly - but that does seem to suggest that Google reckons the digital marketing skills of the UK’s media types aren’t good enough to sustain it – let alone the thousands of other digital businesses cropping up. Considering Google has 90% of the UK internet search market, that isn’t encouraging: particularly when compared with figures from a survey by ZenithOptimedia, which showed 44.1% of the ads on the internet in 2010 were owned by Google, up from 41.9% in 2009.

Now, of course, part of Google’s strategy will to help the next generation of marketers understand its platform, thus enticing them to spend money with it – which is fair enough. But equally worrying is the idea that Google thinks there’s such a shortage of talent that it’s having to train people up itself.

If that’s the case, it puts plans by David Cameron and his Tech City UK cronies to turn London’s East End into the next Silicon Valley in jeopardy. In this month’s Autumn Statement, George Osborne even went as far as to earmark £75m to support technology-based SMEs and help them develop, demonstrate and commercialise new products and services. But if the UK can’t supply people with basic skills like digital marketing, those plans might fall at the first hurdle.

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