COVID-19 And The Training Industry: 7 Top Tips For Training Providers
As the UK government re-introduces a second national lockdown amid the rising cases within the UK population, the training industry once again is staring in the face an uncertain and turbulent few months. In an industry that traditionally relies heavily on face-to-face interaction, there’s absolutely no doubt that alongside the expected health implications, training businesses are going to feel the effects through reduced demand, cancelled courses and employee absence.
With the above in mind, it’s important to identify and be clear about the issues your particular training business is likely to face. accessplanit work with hundreds of training providers worldwide, and we’ve identified 7 ways you can mitigate and de-risk the impact COVID-19 will have on your training business.
1. Introduce Or Increase Volume of eLearning
If online learning is something your training business has been thinking about introducing, there’s perhaps no better time to give it a trial run.
It goes without saying; training departments that already offer some form of self-serve eLearning are in a particularly strong position as far as minimising service disruption. Let’s be clear, this doesn’t have to be bespoke-created, visually stunning portfolio of courses – a simple content upload or quiz could be just the stop-gap that’s needed until the threat level reduces. Looking more long term, a blended offering of face-to-face and online learning ultimately will help your offerings to become more flexible, for both the business and learners alike.
There are a number of great eLearning authoring tools that can help you get started, from free tools like Easygenerator to customisable and scalable tools like Elucidat. Outside of eLearning content, you can keep your learners engaged in other ways, such as creating a survey, poll, quiz or assessment through SurveyMonkey or using the free tool Canva to create aesthetic, supplementary course content, with no design skills required!
If you’re still not sold, here are 8 great reasons you should offer online learning.
2. Start hosting webinars
If your business has a strong reliance on instructor-led training, the most cost effective and simple way to ensure short-term continuity is to transition your existing offerings to webinars. There are several cheap, even free, video conferencing tools out there that are simple to set up and use. Some of the most well-known include Zoom, Skype and GoToMeeting. Your organisation can set up an account, email out the call/video joining instructions to learners once a course is booked, and within a couple of clicks, they’re right in the room with the trainer.
The above has become the only viable go-to option for many providers facing tight restrictions. There’re a few things you may want to consider before you dive into this, though. Here’s a quick checklist…
- Check your audio and video – nothing gives off a worse impression to your learners than a shaky camera, muffled audio, or background noise.
- Make sure it’s recorded! - You want learners to be able to go back through and re-watch; a valuable benefit over traditional face-to-face learning! It’s also great for those that are unable to attend.
- Run a test webinar - don’t leave things to chance on launch!
Check out this awesome webinar on how to deliver your best online training session yet.
The benefit of using video conferencing tools can advance beyond just course delivery. Zoom is a great way to conference call with your colleagues and stay in touch whilst social distancing measures are in place. Meetings can simply be held virtually, with the ability to host several colleagues at any one time.
Watch our latest Webinar: Coronavirus and the training industry- De-risking the impact of uncertain times
3. Monitor your staff
Particularly for established training organisations that operate globally, minimising the risk to your employees in 'COVID hotspots' is paramount. If you’re working with a bank of freelance/contract trainers, it can be difficult to keep tabs on the threat to your business or potential risk to learners.
The wellbeing of your employees also needs to be considered – do they feel safe? Do you have employees with underlying health conditions that are more at risk? Do they have provisions to be able to work from home? Hysteria is more contagious than the virus itself, after all! If you have the provisions, working from home could be a useful thing to trial while we are all in this ‘delay’ phase. It’s important that your staff are also aware of the following:
- Mental health support services they have access to
- Risk assessments and business procedure for presumptive or confirmed case
- Worst case scenario contingency
- Sanitisation and hygiene requirements
If you train internationally, there’s a high chance that some areas you operate in face either a smaller or a greater risk of infection. Certain national restrictions that are in place aren't as stringent as Italy for example. This could present an opportunity to increase your training course provision in certain areas, whilst cutting back in others.
4. Continuity of service
In times of uncertainty, there’s nothing more useful than a back-up plan. With widespread transmission likely, it’s about covering all angles of possibility. There are certain, more predictable, things that you can prepare in advance for, however. One of these, is your responsibility to keep your customers informed. They need to know if training is going to be cancelled; if they’re going to get refunds; if the course is getting rescheduled; the safety measures you have in place, etc... If self-isolation does put someone out of action for a couple of weeks, do you know who is going to cover that position?
It’s also imperative that your employees are regularly and reliably advised. This means knowing exactly what’s expected of them, and ensuring they have the preparations and equipment in place to be able to work remotely, if required. This includes considering things like:
- Laptops/mobiles to work from home
- System access / VPN’s may be required for staff off-site
- Call forwarding from the office
Tech Republic have put together a useful guide on 10 rules for an effective working from home policy.
It may be the case that service will be affected and there’s no way around it. In that case, it’s essential that those involved are all informed promptly. This is likely to be the case with events such as large gatherings and events, or if trainers must cancel last minute due to illness.
5. Change your focus
Whilst self-isolating, this presents a great time to review your current courses and decipher what’s working and what isn’t. It may offer an opportunity to analyse things like course attendance and feedback, as well as running reports on profitability and forecasting. All of this however relies on a robust reporting engine in a centralised system that you already use - you don’t want to spend days in self-isolation rummaging through lever-arch files or outdated spreadsheets.
Perhaps there are marketing initiatives or new course offerings you could be trialling, or a courtesy call to your customers could prove useful networking in the downtime?
It is also a great time to learn more about the ever-changing training industry. Take a look at these 10 great webinars that came out of the training industry recently.
6. Automate your systems
The unfortunate truth at times like these, is that computers don’t take sick days! Whilst staff are self-isolating, the cogs of an automated system continue to turn, and ensure that there’s no misinformation or delay in sending communications; receiving bookings; handling finance, or running reports. Carefully constructed workflows can create an action based on a trigger. Great examples of this could include:
- An automated email following a course booking that sends out webinar joining instructions to the learner
- A text sent to trainers informing of a course cancellation
- Marketing incentives such as discount codes to delegates of cancelled or rescheduled courses
One of the greatest benefits an automated system can give your business is a reliable and consistent service for your customers. Training management systems such as accessplanit are fantastic at automating the operational and administrative side of training. There’re several other systems that can help you, depending on your business priorities and course offerings.
7. Provide training on pandemics
As a trusted training provider, this worrisome time presents an opportunity for you to educate your learners on something new. What better training course to engage and enlighten your learners with than something that is currently a global pandemic. You’re bound to garner a great deal of interest providing training around something that is relevant, and something that people generally don’t understand all that well. Not a bad addition to your training portfolio. The World Health Organisation released this online course recently.
By offering training on pandemics such as COVID-19, you’re asserting yourself as a trusted partner to your clients and learners, which is comforting at a time when there is mass uncertainty and conflicting information!
There’s no denying, the Coronavirus will continue to cause a great deal of disruption across the training industry. Following the measures above you can hopefully reduce risk and minimise the impact this will have on your business.
If you would like to discuss how accessplanit can help your organisation, with our award-winning training management system, you can book a demo with one of our experts below.