The finding emerged in the PR Academy's fourth annual Trends Survey, which was based on the responses of 104 past and present students, who tend to be people already employed in PR.
Last year digital comms was the subject where most respondents identified a skills gap, but this year digital was named by 40 per cent, putting it behind budget management (42 per cent) and research & analysis (42 per cent).
Nevertheless, when asked which one skill they would address in the next 12 months, most people said digital communication, followed by measurement and strategic planning.
For the first time the majority of respondents said they worked in the private sector rather than the public sector, reflecting either a decrease in the number of public sector communicators or a reduction in training budgets preventing those in the public sector from studying for a qualification.
Three-quarters of respondents said holding a professional qualification had led to career progression or they thought it would this year. Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) said their employer provided access to qualifications but 37 per cent said training budgets had been cut or frozen by their organisation over the past four years.
PR Academy designs and delivers a range of courses, working with awarding bodies including the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication and the Association for Project Management.