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A retraining revolution is taking place. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic spurred the development of business processes. Regardless of whether you are positioning a new brand or acting as an authority in the market, it is important to realize that there is a new awareness of the skills needed by both employees and customers.
Businesses both large and small are rethinking employee needs and the technology required to deliver products and services to customers. This awareness drives entrepreneurs in the technology and education industries to position themselves to win by offering courses tailored to these skills.
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Companies aren't the only ones rethinking their future. Given the significant workforce disruption and high unemployment rate associated with COVID-19, individuals in the workforce are considering career changes as part of their post-pandemic plans. According to the Strada Education Network, 64% of people interested in additional professional development and training say they will change their careers rather than get another job in the same field. This is a process called "retraining". A recent report on CNBC.com estimated that approximately 17.6 million Americans will not be able to return to their pre-pandemic jobs, requiring them to learn new skills.
If you are a thought leader looking to help your customers through this upheaval, you are most likely thinking about how your expertise (content) can lend itself to the mass desire for retraining. An effective way to do this is to make sure that you position your expertise as learning programs developed through the lens of Edge Learning. Edge learning is the continuous process of developing the peripheral skills that have the greatest impact on a person's ability to lead a successful and fulfilling life. Edge learning is not about memorizing facts, technical skills, or an understanding of how to effectively use the business tools. Instead, it tries to develop a person's soft skills.
Let's take the accounting staff as an example. Every well-run company needs skilled people in its accounting department. These are people who have successfully completed courses in accounting practices. This is a very specific and important skill. When multiple candidates with similar education and experience are considered for hiring, it is their peripheral or marginal skills that distinguish them.
These peripheral skills include, but are not limited to, the candidate's confidence, personality, the type and level of etiquette he demonstrates during the interview process, and communication skills. What essentially sets them apart is how they present themselves. Beyond asking whether the candidates have the necessary training for the role, it's about how well they work and whether they fit well with the rest of the team. The same hiring considerations apply to any role from those on the assembly line to the CEO. It's their edge skills that make all the difference. And educators who can effectively offer qualified training in these areas are in great demand. Edge learning is an integral part of the reskilling revolution!
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Edge learners know that trust makes the difference in the type and quality of work that gets in their way. The world longs for confidence after all of the recent uncertainty. The same Strada Education Network study referenced above reports that 64% of Americans are concerned, 50% cautious, and 51% concerned. Trust has always been the key to success, but in a post-COVID-19 landscape, it's more important than ever.
Given the current situation on the labor market, this is not surprising. Though the unemployment rate has fallen slightly since then, the employment landscape has changed permanently and undeniably since April, when an impressive 22 million Americans were unemployed. Given the significant disruption to the workforce, it is not surprising that many are pondering how a career change fits into their post-pandemic plans.
Marginal skills that are easily transferable are most desirable for workers considering a career change. In volatile markets, it is possible that workers can expect to take advantage of multiple opportunities before reaching the positions most suitable for them. On the employer side, it has become painfully apparent that HR departments are likely to hire multiple iterations of teams over the years. It is rare for workers and employers to form long-term partnerships in today's evolving business landscape.
Training content developers need to understand not only the latest formats for delivering training, but also the multitude of distribution opportunities. As technological resources evolve, different content users have their own specifications or requirements for delivery styles and formats. In addition, it is important to keep content relevant by analyzing it against current market requirements and having a system for updating it.
It is important to carefully evaluate your thinking and the creation of your professional development programs to ensure that they are appropriate for the demands of the current climate. Edge learners know that the quality of the expertise received makes a difference in how quickly they can create new opportunities. Learning experiences need to be engaging and produce amazing results. They need to be delivered in different formats to suit the different learning styles of those taking the courses.
Content created for edge learners must meet certain criteria in order to be successful in the years to come. Those deeply involved in the retraining revolution need to be careful in evaluating various training programs. They want solid results ASAP and they judge content or training programs that just don't deliver.
There are four red flags to avoid when attracting edge learners:
The course does not promise a specific result. Instead, there are vague promises about what the course could do for learners. Specify the goal for each course and design accordingly. Explore your industry to see if your course qualifies for advanced training credits or other industry-specific certification. The course is too wide. Content developers fall into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone. The result is that the course offers very little to very little. Think about where the advice fits into your course development process. How much research has been done on the specific needs of your ideal customers? Have you already committed yourself to a topic without first listening to what people wanted and saying they need it? If you already have an audience, that audience knows, likes, and trusts you for a reason. Let them use surveys and focus groups to guide your course development to meet the specific needs of future prospective learners. If you ask the right questions, your customers will tell you exactly what they want to own. The course cannot be implemented. If the course does not provide tactics, strategies, or procedures to apply for learners, there is no way for them to put the skills they have learned into practice – and achieve tangible results. The course does not provide follow-up by the thought leader. Thought leaders need to be responsible for the content they create. Think about the overall installation of your thought thinking business. How do you best optimize your connection with your audience and use the technology at your disposal to make connecting with that audience easier? Your course is not a stand-alone course – your website, sales page, newsletter, social media, learning websites must work together to give your customers a holistic product that they can trust.
Jonathan Robb, Associate Vice President, Customer Experience & Engagement at NorQuest College, is responsible for evaluating content that is specific to post-secondary institutions. He pointed out that his deliberations include not only the red flags mentioned above, but that the skills offered are in high demand by industry and companies, both now and in the future.
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The retraining revolution is at hand. Soft skills are improved through hands-on experience and mentoring from leading experts and entrepreneurs. When new skills need to be developed, learners turn to those who have been where they want to go first. You value the experience and expertise of others.
The time to evaluate your content and training programs to see if edge learning skills are needed on both sides of the business equation: entrepreneurs looking to improve the skills of employees and workers who want or need to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Use these strategies to edge-learn your thought leadership programs and build your impact in this ever-changing marketplace.