UPSKILL: What 42 Days of Digital Marketing tells us about the Future of Work

UPSKILL: What 42 Days of Digital Marketing tells us about the Future of Work

The 42-day lockdown in Uganda is nearing its end. While the first lockdown was the first of its kind for Ugandans, the second lockdown finds us a little bit wiser in surviving and thriving against the odds of this pandemic.

Talking of thriving, at UPSKILL, a digital services marketplace that matches highly skilled talent with industry in new ways, there has been a hive of activity from discussions about the state of digital marketing in Uganda, flash talks about necessary skills to establish oneself in this service to masterclasses meant to improve one’s digital skills.  Digital marketing encompasses online marketing approaches that exist to digitally connect a company with prospective customers. It covers a broad range of tactics from the business website itself to online branding assets, digital advertising, email marketing, online brochures, banner and popup ads, among others. Research by LinkedIn rates digital marketing as one of the top ten jobs with the largest openings.

UPSKILL’s sessions on influencer marketing, digital marketing strategies, search engine optimization, advertising on social media and many more to come are happening at a time when the digital economy and e-commerce are high on the list of things that will drive prosperity. According to the Global Review on E-commerce released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 2021, digital solutions are very vital for the continuity of economic and social activities remotely. In the past year, digital platforms have been helpful for telemedicine, telework and online education, enabling people to stay connected while social distancing. The global report further notes that there has been a growth in e-commerce in developing countries too.

UPSKILL partnered with Bakash Media Foundation to build a digital marketing community for youths, marketing practitioners, corporate companies and, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through this time. In a campaign dubbed the “#42DaysOfDigitalMarketing”, digital marketing enthusiasts got the opportunity  to engage and learn from industry experts and influencers as well as equipping businesses with the knowledge on how to build their brands online. 

The campaign was launched on July 2, 2021 and is intended to promote a series of online activities that engage each of these different people. These activities will culminate into UPSKILL’s Digital Marketing Intensive Program that will be launched in September 2021. 

Bakash Media Foundation, the partner in this campaign, has two years of experience as an education platform that gathers resources for young people who are stepping out into the professional world. It gathers literature and professional opinions from seasoned professionals in various career fields and then links the youth to this information. 

The Co-Founder and Administrator of the company, Bruno Komuburuga speaks of the necessity of a community that connects young people and SMEs to digital marketing expertise. 

“Career guidance is essential for the future of work. It is important that young people who are planning to pursue various career paths make informed decisions. From this campaign, we hope that the youth in higher institutions of learning will be introduced to the opportunity-laden world of digital marketing,” he says. 

Bakash Media Foundation coordinates and mobilises youth from institutions of higher learning. At a free cost, the youth participating are privy to discussions among professionals on Digital Marketing as a Career and Digital Marketing as a business. 

Further commenting on these 42 days of digital marketing, the Senior Associate of UPSKILL, Aaron Musoke says, “In terms of education, young people have to realise that education has moved on from the public arena to the personal.  In light of the global pandemic, the world more than ever is moving to the digital economy faster than before.”

He adds, “What UPSKILL is doing for young people with small businesses and corporate companies is to help them join the world of Digital Marketing through the 42 Days of Digital Marketing. Even with arcades and shops closed down, a business can still go on, because online makes this possible.” 

As the campaign rolled out, young people interested in expanding their horizons with new careers or venturing into entrepreneurship were given an opportunity to sign up on the various zoom links on the UPSKILL social media platforms. 

Long serving customer care agent Teddy Ayakaka has followed the community’s activities to expand her skill set in the customer service field especially in the digital realm. 

After attending a few sessions, she has picked up on the skills in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) which have laid a foundation for her career plans as a freelance writer. She had been planning to venture into freelance writing for a while and the training gave her a good start on fashion blogs in a way that guarantees online traffic. In her own words, Ayakaka says, “This training is definitely taking me a long way.”

Speaking to the expert who held the class, Co-Founder and E-commerce Director at Kweli Shop, Stephen Obeli says while he is pleased by the feedback, he is not surprised that the session is set to yield much for those interested in SEO. 

“Many people have reached out to me on email, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms to tell them more about SEO or to give feedback on how it is working for them. I think, finally, people are realising that SEO is one of the crucial parts of digital marketing and not social media as they always thought. People are also realising that SEO doesn’t require much once you have the skills and knowledge. With that, I feel that the campaign has been effective,” Obeli concludes.

With one day left for the 42 day campaign to end,  UPSKILL has trained 445 people. More sessions about Photoshop, blogging, graphics design, media monitoring, social listening, leveraging LinkedIn and YouTube for business growth are in the pipeline. Musoke observes that the 42 days tell us much about where Uganda needs to focus its efforts to utilise the opportunities presented by the digital economy. 

“The campaign has been a big success so far. With each session we have had not less than 50 people in attendance. That shows me that we are doing something right. The feedback from the attendees is encouraging especially on topics like Influencer Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Digital Strategy. I think that this campaign’s success can be attributed to the current state we are in. After experiencing a second lockdown, more than ever, the youth, small businesses and corporations, have understood that the world has moved online. If you want your business to survive, you have to go digital. It could be a website or social media but your business has to get online and you have to get digital skills.”

Equipped with the knowledge and skills from seasoned professionals, Musoke believes that the youth will seize the Future of Work against any and every odd.