Economy

Computer Training During a Recession – Is the Bad Economy the Death Computer Training?

You’ve seen the headlines, and witnessed the financial blood-shed as business after business seems to be headed for disaster. In this article we’ll explore why this economy may indeed be the death of computer and soft-skills training as we currently know it, and how the training industry will likely change in the next 6-9 months.

The Death of Training Departments

This one’s a no-brainer. As cutbacks occur across the board, management takes on a triage approach not only to individual workers, but also to entire departments and programs. This will most likely sound the death knell of many dedicated training departments. Why pay for training staff and support when you are cutting back and laying off workers in droves? You can’t train workers you don’t have!

What this Means to You

Management will see this as a time to cherry-pick the already competent workers, expecting their top-talent to invest their own time in keeping their IT and soft-skills set sharp. Unfortunately, this line of thinking also relegates those with lesser computer and soft-skills to fend for themselves, most likely in another job. This also means that training departments will likely shrivel up and disappear in many companies across the board.

If you’re in a training department, now is a good time to start looking elsewhere for employment, or to reposition yourself within your current organization. More on this later…

Training Trends: The Rise of CBT and the Death of ILT

Even though management may have eliminated training staff and cut-back on training budgets, there is still a need for some training, even in this economy. But the training had better not be expensive.

This means a shift away from dedicated in-house training staff, and a shift towards contracted outside training vendors. Again, think financial triage. Where would you spend your money if you were in management: on expensive training staff and equipment–which results in ongoing costly overhead–or on training sessions à la carte?

Current trends will also favor a higher reliance on computer based training (CBT) as opposed to instructor led training (ILT). That means instead of sending employees to computer and soft-skills classes, management is likely to hand them a DVD and tell them to go fish–if they’re lucky.

This should make sense: after all, it can be easier to offer training “on the fly” with CBT than dedicate several hours of an employee’s time purely to training. Whether CBT is as effective as ILT, however, is another matter entirely. And despite my dramatic heading for this section, there will still be a place for excellent ILT courses; but they will just not be as common.

What You Can Do To Protect Yourself

Existing training staff, if you’re still surviving at your present job, you can secure your position by showing management what your computer knowledge can do for them–not as training staff, but as productive workers.

Show ’em how you can make a spreadsheet dance, a brochure sing, and a report yodel. It’s time to diversify and put your skills to good use. It’s time to demonstrate your value as a bona-fide regular employee who contributes directly to the bottom line. In fact, this is more necessary than ever before, as socioeconomic forces have contributed to the rise of the individual worker as an autonomous business force.

The Rise of The Individual

At no point in recent history has the corporate climate been so ripe for the achievements of the individual. Now is the time for individual workers to shine, to show their stuff. It’s a Darwinian dog-eat-dog situation, more than ever before, but the winners come up higher than ever before as well.

That means you have the opportunity to “wow” your bosses and up-line management, and in fact, you must do so, to retain your position. It also means more fierce competition amongst your coworkers, and a higher-than-ever demand for you to keep on top of everything. You can’t afford to fall asleep at the wheel in this economy–not even once!

External Vendors

Outside vendors, you will do well to cut prices but increase quality and services. This is an employer’s market now, and you need to compete–not just with your fellow vendors, but also with yourselves. You must be better, sharper, smarter, and more comprehensive than in previous years. The demand for training may be falling sharply, but there still is business to be gotten. So be one of the ones that get it!

Your competition may be cutting back on everything, including advertising, so now is actually a good time to advertise–right now there are fewer voices in the marketplace, and you will be seen more easily.

Conclusion

So is this economy the “death of computer training” as the title suggests? Until the economy straightens out, the answer is a definite “Yes, as we know it.” But it is not the end of the world. There will always be a place for excellence, and high quality corporate ILT training will continue, albeit at a slower pace. Position yourself correctly, and you will survive and even thrive.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Until next time, we’ll solve our problems “Bit by Bit.”


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