This article first appeared as Anthony Bullick‘s column in the Daily Post on 7 November.

Skills and recruitment are two of the hottest topics in business. And with January the most popular month for people looking for new jobs, can you afford not to invest in your workforce’s training?

Providing personal and professional development opportunities is a common reason people stay in their role: they are being challenged, do not become bored, and value their employer investing in their future.

When it comes to your marketing department, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

What subjects are not just important now, but in the future? What frequency and intensity of learning is best? Who are the most appropriate providers?

At the outset, speak with the individual(s) concerned. Their self-identified areas for education could surprise you. For example, with social media platforms constantly changing and making it more difficult to achieve results, your marketing manager could request social media training.

In addition, a marketing director could be seeking to link business objectives with activity on the website, but is unsure how to interpret and interrogate Google Analytics.

Another option is to speak to a trusted third party who specialises in PR and marketing. They can quickly identify what is missing from your strategy, and therefore the necessary skills required from your staff.

In addition to the traditional models of college and university qualifications including degrees and master’s degrees, the business community is awash with viable alternatives.

Industry bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) offer a variety of courses and methods of learning. For example, each offers professional qualifications such as certificates and diplomas, as well as regular seminars and workshops for bitesize learning.

Their continuing professional development (CPD) programmes also consist of online resources such as webinars and e-books to allow people to consume the information at a time and pace suitable for them.

There are also marketing and PR agencies that offer bespoke, 1-2-1 digital training on subjects including media relations, social media, and Google Analytics. Google them to find out more and review case studies and testimonials to see what your peers say about them.

A more informal option is to encourage your team to sign up to industry-related newsletters containing blog posts, industry news, and other useful content, and allocate a set time each week to discuss findings.

Finally, the option of personal and professional development can be highly attractive to potential applicants, so ensure your PR and marketing communications team is in dialogue with your HR department to aid recruitment.