At present there’s a real preference within the search engine marketing (SEM) industry to recruit team members with at least 2 years experience. However, this is proving difficult as the growth in search marketing activity is overtaking the growth of professional search marketers. So what can be done about the skills shortage?Companies have two possible options. 1) employ the services of a specialist search engine marketing agency to develop and implement their search strategy, or 2) recruit talent with potential and train them up in the different disciplines of search marketing.Search is in demand!With more and more businesses placing search high up on their marketing agendas it would make sense for them to do both. Companies will always benefit from having the strategic support of specialist agency to help them get to grips with the latest developments in search and to help them integrate search into their marketing mix. However, many of the day to day tasks associated with both pay per click (PPC) and search engine optimisation (SEO) can be effectively managed internally, providing that person has the right levels of knowledge to do so.In the current climate most organisations would probably be better off sticking with their agency but at the same time they should be thinking of developing a long-term training strategy to build up internal search marketing knowledge and skills.Building internal knowledge takes timeBuilding a team with solid SEO and PPC skills isn’t going to happen overnight and it does come with its risks. In a market that is short on supply of individuals with proven SEM skill sets, companies also face the prospect of a ‘brain drain’. There is the possible risk of recruits that have been trained up with these skills are then lured away by bigger players who are able to pay higher salaries.However, what is inevitable is that if the current trend continues and search marketers become few and far between then there will be a greater demand for agency support, and with demand outstripping supply, we could see companies paying a premium for search marketing agency services.Investing in search engine marketing training must not be viewed as a costly outlay but rather an investment. Companies that seize the opportunity to develop internal knowledge now, could benefit in the medium to long term by gaining a competitive advantage that is hard to replicate in the short-term.