For many small businesses finding the right staff with the necessary skills and skills levels can be challenging at the best of times. Skills are very important to both productivity and competitive advantage. It is also true to say a persons’ CV is only an indication of their ability to do a job to the required standard, otherwise all businesses would make the right hiring decision every time from only a CV.
The British Chamber of Commerce describes the skills shortage in the UK as ‘reaching critical levels’ from a survey of over 7000 companies, and ultimately it is people that make businesses work. What’s interesting about the way the BCC describes the skills shortage is that for a number of years universities have been educating increasing numbers of students to degree level or above.
Corporate businesses overcome the problem through staff personal development plans, making time available for training courses and bringing in external companies to deliver them. Having worked for corporate companies I attended many with the aim of improving my personal performance, and as a small business owner now I still absolutely love learning new skills and improving on the skill set customers of Copyvision value.
Small businesses as a rule do not have the luxury of time or money available to implement employee development plans or bring in external training providers. On the job training is a familiar term in the small business sector but means something very different now than when I was starting my career back in the internet dark ages before dial-up connections.
The opportunities for self-learning/training from online platforms such as The Open University, Lynda.com or Udemy.com are great resources and affordable, delivered at a pace and time that is convenient.
Is it therefore a better question today for small businesses not, who can I recruit to bring the skills into the business? But does the business already have the quality of staff to bring the skills in? As a company who supply and delivers support for Colour Multi- Function Photocopier/printers we know we can install the most up to date equipment functionality into an office, but if we do that without delivering staff training all we have achieved is removed confidence and made a team nervous of the unknown.
YouTube is often used as a free learning resource and carries a wealth of knowledge and experience from people on all types of skills. The opportunity to learn new skills for small businesses is accessible to a much greater extent now than say ten years ago. Equally the opportunity to share knowledge via YouTube is as exciting
Lynda.com is owned by Microsoft who purchased the platform in 2016 boasting 13,000 expert led courses from people who have credibility in their subject. For example, one of the photography courses is presented by a photographer who works for National Geographic.
Currently popular subjects are course topics such as, Spreadsheets (Excel) Software design, Web standards, Programming languages, IT automation, Database development and data analysis among others. The courses are in video format, very well structured and mostly Tech focused. Pricing options are very simple, subscription based and affordable.
YouTube or Udemy.com subject specialists on the other hand are not selected in the same way as Lynda.com, and topics areas are much broader. The other point worth noting is they are also less structured than Lynda.com where you can start as a beginner and progress. Having said that there are some very good videos on both YouTube and Udemy worth looking at. Udemy isn’t free and costs are either per course which can become expensive or alternatively pay for one of the plans on Udemy for Business.
Finally, The Open University have been delivering distance learning for the past 50 years now and also deliver staff training options. Boasting 1,300 organisations that have chosen them to provide staff with skills their business needs, offering degrees, diplomas and short courses. Delivery resources include podcasts, broadcasts, computer software as well as a dedicated website for the modules being studied. The OU offer a virtual learning environment where learners are also able to connect with their Tutor and other learners online. The ‘Anywhere App’ allows learners to download their course material and navigate to course websites from within the app itself. Vocational training courses are priced on a per course basis and include industry recognised qualifications in subjects such as, Business Administration, Customer Service, Health and Social Care and Management.