If You Build It, They Will Come

Simon Quarendon | December 17, 2021

‘Tai Chi Made Fun and Easy’, ‘Spanish for Beginners’ and ‘Portrait Drawing Fundamentals Made Simple’ are just some of the non-work-related courses our staff have enrolled in via the Selbey Anderson College, whose doors flung open last month.

Powered by Udemy’s 6,000+ courses, we’ve made the College available to all staff working within the group. It represents a change from our usual system where staff had to pass their probation and undergo a skills audit to qualify, as the College is now available from day one to anyone who joins a Selbey Anderson agency.

Out of the seven agencies within the Selbey Anderson Group, our staff have already enrolled in twenty-four courses, the majority of which are directly linked to their job role.

Gratifyingly, the range of work-related courses now being studied are just as broad as their personal courses, including ‘Salesforce Certification – Sales Cloud Consultant’, Modern Copywriting’ and ‘Leadership: Practical leadership skills’.

It’s perhaps not surprising though that so many of our staff have grasped this opportunity to invest time in their personal development. As in other agencies, Millennials already outnumber all other generations in our workforce today.

According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94 per cent of those Millennials surveyed said that they would stay at a company longer if it funded learning opportunities, whilst a similar number are also working on some form of self-improvement.

Given that Millennials will represent between 40 – 45 per cent of the global workforce by 2025, learning what makes them tick is vital to our future success.

That’s a slam dunk to me (as the Americans would say) and further proof – if it were needed – as to why the 160+ seats we have licensed from Udemy, our current course provider, represents such a great investment.

Actually, providing staff with opportunities to acquire new skills and further improve on existing ones (either through on the job training or quasi academic, semi-structured courses such as the Udemy ones) should be the responsibility of all agency employers.

How else can we possibly expect to hold on to them or to offer our clients a service that meets their needs? Needs that are constantly evolving too.

And it’s not just our Millennials staff who we are encouraging to enrol in the College. Research suggests that skills generally have a “half-life” of about five years, with more technical skills at just two and a half years.

That suggests anything we learnt before 2016 is of declining value or importance.  (Gulp.) To say that all of us should engage in ‘continuous re-skilling’ would be a massive understatement.

[Although I’m ashamed to say I haven’t yet dipped my toe in, the same cannot be said about my fellow co-founder Dom Hawes who has already signed up for two courses, proof that you’re never too old to learn.]

The Selbey Anderson College has a lot to learn too. Whilst Udemy has a breadth of courses available, many can be considered irrelevant, and so some ‘course curation’ is needed, which is why the next phase is helping to build learning pathways.

We should also upload our own course material too, as we have staff at every level of the organisation who are highly specialist and have highly transferrable skills that other staff would appreciate learning about.

Who knows, my presentation on how biorhythms can affect performance could still become a best seller!

I’m a firm believer that investing in our people is the key to our long-term success. And as we close the doors on what has been a fantastic 2021 for Selbey Anderson, I can’t help but think that opening the online college to the whole group is one of the smartest investments we’ve made this year.