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Micro-upskilling pilot shows it offers more benefits than traditional training methods

Melanie May | 3 February 2023 | News

A woman at a laptop with a notebook. By on pexels

The Data & Marketing Association (DMA UK) has published findings from its UK-wide pilot into micro-upskilling, revealing that it offers additional learner benefits compared to traditional training methods, but must be spearheaded from the top to reach its full potential.

It is now calling on senior management teams across the UK to introduce continuous learning cultures within their organisations.

The DMA’s pilot saw around 150 learners across 16 multinational organisations, charities, SMEs, and agencies including Experian, RSPCA, Golden Charter, Visit Scotland, PETA, and The Dragonfly Agency take part in trialling micro-upskilling over a 6-10 week period.


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The pilot is part of a wider campaign to move the marketing industry a step closer towards reducing industry-wide skills gaps and talent shortages to fuel future growth in the UK’s digital economy through continuous staff development.

The main objective was for participating learners to commit as little as one hour a week to flexible, bitesized e-learning and professional development. Following the pilot programme, learners took part in a survey to help the DMA better understand their experiences of micro-upskilling as an alternative learning approach.

Key benefits identified:

Rachel Aldighieri, MD of the DMA said:

“Direction, support and structure are essential building blocks of a learning culture yet are also the main barriers to professional development. Our micro-upskilling pilot findings are really encouraging – demonstrating to businesses how they can develop these building blocks to supercharge skills acquisition in the short term, while instilling long-term learning habits across their organisation that benefits the employee and employer.”

The pilot found that a key challenge affecting 60% of learners was finding time to upskill. In addition, 55% also stated they had too many competing priorities. With these the most stated challenges by quite a margin, the DMA says senior leaders must bear this in mind when implementing micro-upskilling.

Because of these reasons, 35% managed to do micro-upskilling ‘most weeks’ throughout the pilot, with 39% only able to do it ‘some weeks’. 26% even stated that they were unable to ‘do it very often’.

However, 90% of learners stated that they would like to continue micro-upskilling with their respective organisations, and 63% of learners would feel more confident and positive about their career if micro-upskilling was permanent at their organisation, with 33% more likely to stay with them.

The DMA will now expand its commitment to micro-skilling.

Commenting on this, Aldighieri added:

“The DMA will now work with our wider community to introduce micro-upskilling as a key element of membership. A pledge will be introduced requesting member organisations to commit an hour a week to all staff’s L&D in our new People Pillar of the DMA Code. We aim to make continuous learning synonymous with the DMA community, so our marketers are regularly enhancing their skillsets and helping to drive responsible business growth.”