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There’s a reskilling revolution happening. The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has spurred the evolution of how business is done. Whether positioning a new brand or as an authority in the marketplace it’s critical to realize there is a new awareness of the skillsets required by both staff and clients.
Businesses large and small are rethinking the requirements of employees as well as the technology necessary to deliver products and services to clients. This awareness is driving entrepreneurs in the technology and training industries to position themselves to win by offering courses specific to those skills.
Businesses aren’t the only ones rethinking their futures. Given the significant disruption in the workforce and high unemployment rate related to COVID-19, individuals in the workforce are considering career changes as part of their post-pandemic plans. According to the Strada Education Network, of those individuals who have an interest in pursuing additional professional development and training, 64% say they will be looking to change careers, rather than get another job in the same field. This is a process known as “reskilling.” In fact, a recent report on CNBC.com estimates that approximately 17.6 million Americans will not be able to return to their pre-pandemic jobs, which will require them to learn new skills.
If you are a thought leader looking to support your clients through this upheaval, you are most likely considering how your expertise (content) can lend itself to the mass desire for reskilling. An effective way to do that is to ensure you position your expertise as learning programs that are developed through the lens of Edge Learning. Edge Learning is the continuous process of developing the peripheral skills that have the most impact on a person’s ability to achieve a successful and fulfilled life. Edge Learning is not about memorizing facts, technical skills, or understanding how to effectively use the tools of business. Instead, it seeks to develop a person’s soft skills.
Let’s use workers in the field of accounting as an example. Every well-run business needs qualified employees in their accounting department. These are people who have successfully taken courses of instruction in accounting practices. This is a very specific and important skillset. When multiple candidates are considered for hire with similar training and experience, it is their peripheral or edge skills that differentiate them.
Those peripheral skills include the candidate’s level of confidence, their personality, the type and level of etiquette they demonstrate during the interview process and their communication skills—among others. In essence, what differentiates them is how they present themselves. Beyond the question of whether the candidates have the necessary education for the role is how well they work and if they will be a good fit with the rest of the team. The same hiring considerations apply for every role from those on the manufacturing line all the way up to the CEO. It’s their Edge skills that make the difference. And educators who can deliver skilled training in those areas, in an effective manner, are in high demand. Edge Learning is an essential component of the Reskilling Revolution!
Edge Learners know that confidence will make all the difference in the type and quality of work that comes their way. The world is craving confidence after all the recent uncertainty. That same Strada Education Network study referenced above reports 64% of Americans are feeling concerned, 50% are feeling cautious, and 51% are worried. Confidence has always been key to success, but it’s more important than ever in a post-COVID-19 landscape.
This is not surprising given the current state of the employment market. Though the unemployment rate has since dropped slightly, the employment landscape has permanently and undeniably shifted since April, when a staggering 22 million Americans found themselves unemployed. Given the significant disruption in the workforce, it is not surprising to find that many are thinking about how a career change fits into their post-pandemic plans.
Edge skills that are readily transferable are most desirable by workers considering a change of careers. In volatile markets, it is feasible that workers can expect to work through multiple opportunities before landing positions that best suit them. On the employer side, it has become painfully obvious that HR departments are expected to hire for multiple iterations of teams over the years. It is rare that workers and employers form long-term partnerships in today’s ever-evolving business landscape.
Training content developers need to be aware of not only the latest formats for delivering training but the multitude of avenues for distribution. With the increased development of technological resources, various users of content have their own specifications or requirements for delivery styles and formats. On top of that is the importance of keeping content relevant by analyzing it against the current marketplace needs and having a system for updating it.
It is important to carefully evaluate your thought leadership and the creation of your professional development programs to ensure they meet the needs of the current climate. Edge Learners know that the quality of expertise they receive will make a difference in how quickly they are able to create new opportunities. Learning experiences must be engaging and providing amazing outcomes. They must be delivered in multiple formats to meet the various learning styles of those who will take the courses.
Content created for Edge Learners must meet specific criteria to gain traction and succeed in the coming years. Those deeply involved in the reskilling revolution are bound to be cautious in their evaluations of various training programs. They want solid results as quickly as possible and will denounce any content or training programs that simply don’t deliver.
There are four red flags to avoid when attracting Edge Learners:
- The course does not promise a specific result. Instead, it makes vague promises about what the course might do for learners. Be very specific in the goal for each course and design it accordingly. Explore your industry vertical to see if your course qualifies for continuing education credits or some other industry-specific certification.
- The course is too broad. Content developers fall into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone. The result is that the course offers very little, to very few. Consider where consultation fits into your course development process. How much research has been done into the specific needs of your ideal clients? Were you already committed to a topic without first listening to what people wanted and said they need? If you already have an audience, that audience knows, likes and trusts you for a reason. Allow them to guide your course development to ensure it meets the specific needs of future prospective learners through surveys and focus groups. When you ask the right questions, your clients will tell you exactly what they want to own.
- The course is not implementable. If the course doesn’t provide tactics, strategies or a process for learners to apply, then there is no opportunity for them to put into practice the skills they’ve acquired—and generate tangible results.
- The course does not offer follow-up by the thought leader. Thought leaders need to be accountable for the content they create. Think about the overall plumbing of your thought leadership business. How are you best optimizing your connection to your audience and leveraging the technology at your disposal to make connecting with that audience easier? Your course is not a stand-alone – your website, your sales page, your newsletter, your social media, your learning site platforms, all need to work collectively to provide your clients with a holistic product they can trust.
Jonathan Robb, Associate Vice President of Customer Experience & Engagement at NorQuest College is responsible to evaluate content specific to post-secondary institutions. He indicated that his considerations include not only the above red flags but that the skillsets being offered are in high demand both currently and into the future by industry and businesses.
The reskilling revolution is at hand. The enhancement of soft skills is what occurs through real-world experiences and mentoring from leading experts and entrepreneurs. When new skill development is required, learners first turn to those who have been where they want to go. They value the experience and expertise of others.
The time to evaluate your content and training programs as to their delivery of Edge Learning skills in demand on both sides of the equation of business: business owners desirous of enhancing the skills of employees and workers wanting or needing to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Use these strategies to imbue your thought leadership programs with Edge Learning skills and strengthen your impact on this everchanging market.