Upskilling: Training During a Pandemic
February 11, 2021
You have probably heard the phrase “small business is the backbone of the U.S. economy.” Depending on the website you read, small businesses employ roughly 55 percent or more of the American workforce. Most companies started small, even Amazon, which Jeff Bezos started in the garage of his rented Bellevue, Washington, house in 1994.
What is upskilling?
As a small business, how do you improve your services and better your skills/knowledge? You can employ a strategy called upskilling. What is upskilling? On the micro level, it happens when an employee learns additional skills to expand their capabilities. On the macro level, it has become the word of the year, according to some business experts. It demonstrates a shift in thinking caused by technology. With technology comes new possibilities only executable by a technologically savvy workforce. What does this mean for the small glass fabricator or glazing contractor? It means in order to keep up with competition and your customers, you and your employees must learn new skills/competencies required to meet the demands of a changing business environment.
Why is upskilling suddenly so important? It has been important for many years, but the pandemic brought to light the importance of upping your skills (“upskilling”) to anyone working in the digital economy. (Hint: That is every one of us!) The digital economy is reimagining how you interact with your customers and vice versa by transforming how goods and services are bought and sold. As a business, you must be customer-centric and tech-enabled; otherwise, you run the risk of disrupters coming into your market and taking market share away. Think Katerra, for example!
As the industry and your business transform, I’m reminded of President Biden’s infrastructure plans, where he wants companies and employees to improve “American manufacturing by encouraging investment in new manufacturing technologies and equipment.” This effort should also include upskilling yourself and your employees. To this end, what can you as a small business owner do to upskill?
Finding educational resources
There are many avenues open to you, such as Google’s YouTube, community college courses, online learning portals, trade associations including the NGA’s online My Glass Class, and company branded customer portals, where you can access company specific information, training/support videos, news, and more. For example, My Glass Class, run by the NGA, allows you turn new hires into valuable, skilled personnel, according to their website. When you mention glass-specific software, consult with your providers as they should provide training videos, which will allow you to use their software to improve customer access, experience, and loyalty, which will help you achieve more with fewer employees.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital transformation has accelerated like never before across the business landscape. There has never been more pressure to adapt to new consumer buying patterns. By upskilling, you give yourself and your employees the opportunity to prepare themselves and their job for the future. The shift to a “learning-for-life” mindset enables you and your employees to embrace technological innovation to avoid job displacement in the future. So, how can you employ and encourage upskilling at your company?