As Victoria continues to fight hard against the coronavirus, most of the states in Australia are recovering from the global pandemic. People are heading back out onto the streets, shops and offices are reopening for business.
While the figures point to early signs of recovery as businesses, shops and schools reopen and travel restrictions potentially ease, they also highlight just how far we have to go to return to “normal”.
Small businesses and their employees have been impacted significantly during this pandemic, and now the biggest challenge they are facing is how to recover.
People’s lifestyle as well as how businesses operate have changed significantly. Working from home has become the new “trend” but at the same time, how to increase your work efficiency and ensuring that your business can adapt and thrive in this new environment is a challenge for both businesses and individuals.
Upskilling is one of the areas to be targeted.
So, how can individuals upskill themselves in a cost-effective way and how can organisations support their employees to upskill within their budget, while navigating the impacts of COVID-19?
Individuals – how to keep yourself competitive and employable
For many of us, this pandemic has totally changed our work style. Working from home not only requires new knowledge in using modern technology but also excellent skills in managing your time. A lot of people find it hard to balance their personal life and workload while working from home. And low work efficiency is the most common issue people are facing when working at home. Therefore, upskilling for example in time management would be an essential skill applicable to all job positions.
On the other hand, this current Covid-19 climate has also given us extra hours during the day, if you find that you are now in a position with spare time on your hands, why not take advantage of this and consider using this time to increase your knowledge by learning some new skills or retraining yourself. Instead of skills that are closely linked to the industry, consider learning some soft skills that may be more useful at this moment. For example, obtaining some basic skills and knowledge in project management or leadership management can help you stand out from the crowd in the competitive employment market.
“My work has been impacted and I don’t have the budget to consider training now.”
Costing is another important factor at the moment when considering upskilling. Many of us have lost our jobs or our workload has been reduced dramatically and investing in training is not a priority for many people at the moment.
As a result of this, our local and state governments have introduced some great initiatives to assist individuals who would like to upskill and return to employment.
In NSW Australia, Smart and Skilled is a reform of the NSW Vocational Education and Training (VET) system. It is assisting people in NSW obtain the skills they need to find a job and advance their careers.
Concession fees are available for courses from Foundation Skills to Certificate IV. Students who qualify for concession fees will receive subsidies from the NSW government for their Smart and Skilled training.
If you are not a recipient of a specified Australian Government benefit or allowance, you might still be eligible for a partially subsidised training program. Eligible Smart and Skilled students contribute, on average, between 10 and 45 per cent of the course cost, which is also a considerable saving for most of the students.
If you have recently started a new job or changed to a new employer and are still within the first three months of full-time service with this employer, you are eligible to apply for a NSW Fee-Free Traineeship Program. This means that potentially, your training could be fully subsidised by the government and you can get paid while training.
For example, if you are thinking of studying a Certificate IV in Project Management Practice course, your cost will range from $0 – $1850 compared to the original cost of $4840.
|Original Cost||Fee-Free Traineeship*||Concession*||Partially Subsidised*|
|Certificate IV in Project Management Practice||$4840||$0||$240||$1850|
Business – how to train your staff and prepare your business
Robin Yarham, National Manager – Enablement at SEEK – says “The way we work, interact and deliver what is expected has changed, and we need to think differently about the value we are going to provide in this new world.” He also believes that upskilling and reskilling your staff will play a key role in bringing this to life.
Again, costing is the most important factor when considering upskilling employees, especially at this moment when maintaining business is already a challenge.
Same as with individuals, many businesses are also entitled to benefits from various government initiatives to support them to maintain their business and upskill their employees.
In NSW, for every new employee your business recruited, within their first three months of full-time service, they are eligible to apply for a fee-free traineeship. Approved trainees will be fully subsidised for their traineeship program, and as their employer, you can also enjoy other incentives such as federal government incentives and payroll tax rebate*.
This program enables you to provide training to your employees while focusing on selected areas. This will not only upskill them with their desired skills and knowledge but also will increase their satisfaction and help you in retaining a strong workforce.
In order to adapt and thrive in the current market, we should look at upskilling and diversifying our skillset. As we learn to adapt and navigate the road ahead, it is crucial that our skills stay current in the workplace and even more so in this uncertain climate. Keeping up to date with new processes and learning new skills will prepare you for new opportunities in your current job or even help you progress to the next level in your career. With the employment market changing daily, it is important to keep yourself updated and relevant in a competitive and challenging work environment. By diversifying your skills and obtaining new skills, you are enabling yourself to deal with new situations in your current role and positioning yourself to be able to meet new opportunities in the job market.
*for more information about Smart and Skilled please visit https://smartandskilled.nsw.gov.au/home