There is no doubt that 2020 will be a year to remember. Just four months in and the signs point to a steady downward trajectory for the economy. As budgets are slashed, the pennies that need to be pinched are often taken from learning and development goals. This may seem like the best choice to prioritise more immediate needs.
While a frugal mentality is necessary, investing in your own upskilling now could be the best investment you make towards your own personal resilience and adaptability in a tough time.
Why now is the best time to upskill yourself
The Slim Down
As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the pressing need to upskill and reskill work forces is a priority for many business leaders. With the additional stress of a worldwide pandemic, this need will be amplified as many companies are forced to streamline their workforce. Upskilling yourself now could be the best strategy so ensure you are a nimble and flexible resource – you need to make yourself as indispensable as you can.
“For workers who abruptly find themselves expected to take on the duties of downsized colleagues, upskilling is more than an engagement consideration,” said Carol Morrison, and Kevin Martin, who both have done extensive research at the Institute for Corporate Productivity (I4CP) on the people practices that drive high performance.
“It is a lifeline that turns an overwhelmed and unprepared employee into one with the knowledge and skills to take on new tasks confidently and capably.”
For the last few weeks, businesses and employees have had a crash course in operating on an online platform. And this new skill set can be transferred to e-learning – if that works with the way you learn.
Erin Meehan, a Learning and Development facilitator at Ovations Technology, a digital innovations company, says there are two important things to consider when looking at upskilling opportunities. First, be honest about your learning style and what works well for you. “People learn differently: we are all unique individuals who benefit from different learning styles and retain information differently.”
Secondly, you must take a look at the format that works well for you. Are you available for scheduled weekly online classes? Do you prefer self-study at your leisure with open distance learning? Meehan says, “it is also important to understand the most suitable method of delivering training to ensure (you) achieve the best results.”
With many working on their computers all day, you might need to focus on minimising screen time to avoid ‘zoom fatigue’ – a mental and physical exhaustion that some experience from using video calling constantly for work and social engagement. Luckily, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s) provide upskilling courses through a variety of platforms so learning can be done in smaller doses.
USB-ED recently launched DigiBytes through their YouTube channel. They have curated a ten-minute video with information on the power of microlearning and how the international trends will impact skills development in Africa. For example, through research of 2500 companies, it was discovered that employee revenue increased by 218% per employee after engaging in e-learning solutions. Upskilling and reskilling will be a necessary function of all business growth strategies.
While the United States has been the forerunner of online learning platforms with $325 Billion spent on digital learning, Africa is expected to facilitate 55% of all learning through e-learning within the next five years.
Most MOOC’s are not accredited – which means your learning will not be officially recognised although you will gain invaluable insights and skills that will transform your work and show how well you manage change. But they are an easy way to test the waters and see if you can adjust to a more substantial course load with a certified institution.
Some forecast that social distancing, to some degree, will remain for the foreseeable future. As the business landscape continues to change, various learning institutions are stepping up to the challenge with ‘blended learning’ opportunities.
At USB-ED we’ve seen the immediate need to change the dynamic of our executive education programmes so professionals can continue to pursue new qualifications while physical interactions are limited.
All face-to-face programmes have transitioned to remote learning until such time that the President, World Health Organisation (WHO), and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) deem it acceptable to resume normal activities. However, classes will keep to a live and synchronous schedule to enable classroom interactions and immediate engagement from the Learning Process Facilitators (LPF’s).
This formula will provide the opportunity of distance learning with the benefits of a highly collaborative online learning platform. A remote learning toolkit is also available to provide easy instructions and support for the technologically challenged.
In the new post-COVID10 era, upskilling will be the most important investment you can make. Enrol now in one of USB-ED’s many courses, such as Business Leadership and Management. After the lockdown, there might be a reduced demand in services which will create reduced productivity. By finding new ways to upskill or retrain, it can provide a positive and beneficial use of time to prepare for unforeseen developments. It is the kind of change management strategy we can all benefit from
As Alvin Toffler, Futurist, Business Leader, and Author of Future Shock said, “The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.”