Academic and industry partnership helping close digital skills gap

Martin Jordan and Dr Ewelina Lacka

A collaboration between the agency Equator and Strathclyde University is helping career-ready graduates for the digital marketing industry. Nearly 150 students recently completed the university’s postgraduate elective course on eMarketing which is supported by Glasgow-based Equator and is part of the wider Masters in Marketing. The collaboration was introduced as part of a strategy by the university to develop more commercially-focused graduates – a strategy that will soon be entering its third year of success.

The elective course includes employees from Equator sharing their expertise with students, delivering lectures and discussions on contemporary digital topics. These include performance marketing, content marketing, search optimisation, mobile commerce and future technologies. Equator’s innovation director Martin Jordan and Dr Ewelina Lacka of Strathclyde’s Department of Marketing developed the partnership in response to a recognition by both parties that the digital skills gap causes issues for both graduates and employers. The two organisations are working towards the next step of this collaboration which will focus on creating a fully digitally-focused Masters.

Since it was established in 1999, Equator has been at the forefront of digital technology and transformational thinking. The company’s 170 experts create connected experiences that grow brands and improve lives. Part of the agency’s ethos is to challenge the industry and the education sector to establish a more integrated and collaborative learning path for those building a career in marketing, brand and technology.

This is demonstrated by chief creative officer James Jefferson’s involvement in launching The National College for Creative Industries, one of the five national colleges approved by the Government to support employer-led learning. Jefferson, co-founder and chief creative officer at Equator, now sits on the board of the new college to define the standards and principles for this innovative new institution. “At Equator, we’re passionate about nurturing talent and improving standards in the creative and digital industry,” he said. “We believe the best way to achieve this is to work closely with universities to create more responsive models that ensure course content is always aligned with what’s happening in the industry.

“The University of Strathclyde is the ideal partner to carry this initiative forward. It has a fantastic reputation for forging relationships with businesses which open its students up to a wide array of opportunities. Its graduates are digital-ready, enthusiastic and ready-to-go in a workplace environment. We’ve been really impressed by Dr Lacka’s dedication to modernising the course. Her and Martin’s efforts are helping deliver a sustainable source of talent that will fuel the growth of Scotland’s digital economy.”

Dr Lacka added: “We’re incredibly proud that a second cohort of skilled students have successfully completed the course and are now ready to make their mark on the digital industry. Working with Equator, we have made great progress in bridging the gap between academia and practice, enabling students to not only learn academic theories, but their practical application in a real business setting. We are very excited about continuing our partnership as we work together to drive a new generation of creative minds for Scotland’s digital industry.”