With the official onset of recession comes the sobering news that one in three UK employers expects to make staff redundant by the autumn. Research by the CIPD shows a 50% jump in the number of employers expecting to cut jobs compared to three months ago. The Coronavirus pandemic has wiped more than a quarter off the UK’s economic output. As firms look to shed costs by letting staff go, it appears likely that contractors in some sectors could face longer downtime between contracts.
Although periods without work can be challenging, they can also present opportunities to focus on what you want to achieve and how to get there. One of the biggest difficulties for contractors is figuring out which skills will help them remain competitive in the long term. Contractors often don’t have the time to sit down and research the best options for developing and securing their future career. However, it’s easy to get stuck in certain work patterns, without stopping to consider if it’s actually the direction you want to move in, or a potential dead end.
This is why contractors need to use any work-free periods productively. With the current restrictions on face to face interaction, online learning is becoming a huge enabler for people to upskill and adapt to rapid change. There has been a massive surge in the amount of people signing up for online learning for professional development. In many cases, demand for specific courses directly correlates with areas of growing market demand. With some careful thought, you can see where your existing skills can be updated to align with gaps in the market.
Analysis of the 40,000 courses available on reed.co.uk reveals a dramatic increase in uptake. The ‘People Management’ and the ‘Programming for Everybody: Python Data Structures’ courses saw significant spikes in popularity in July, with both courses experiencing 600% and 490% growth respectively. By far the fastest-growing course was ‘Teaching Young Learners Online’, reflecting the increase of home tutoring at a staggering increase of 928% in July.
People are also using e-learning to quickly adapt to a market with a surplus of opportunities in social care and specific IT skills. The ‘COVID-19: Psychological Impact, Wellbeing, and Mental Health’ had the greatest spike in sales rising to 4,310 in July. Meanwhile, ‘Data Analytics for Decision Making: An Introduction to Using Excel’ rose by 346. Overall, their most popular courses this summer include ‘Essential IT Skills Level 2’.
The range of courses isn’t the only advantage of virtual learning. Online educational platforms have a massive amount of user data which enables them to use machine learning algorithms to enhance learner experience. For example, when a student repeatedly struggles with a concept, the platform can adjust the e-learning content to provide more detailed information to help the student. Research suggests that online learning increases retention of information, while decreasing learning time.
Online learning can also be arranged around any changes in schedule. This is particularly useful for contractors, who can take advantage of any work opportunities while picking up the course in their free time. Cost is another advantage, with increasing amounts of learners brining the price right down, and many online courses offered for free. This represents a huge opportunity for contractors to rapidly increase their knowledge assets and ensure that when the market begins to pick up, their skills will place them ahead of the competition.
For more insights on how to upcycle/recycle your existing skills read our article here. If you’re starting a new contracting role then ContractingWISE have access to a wide range of hassle-free services that can help you with setting up a limited company or finding the right umbrella company for you. To talk to a member of our team, call: 0203 642 8679