2020 has taken the world by surprise with COVID- 19 dominating and impacting all economies. South Africa has not been spared and is only starting to see the rapid spread and impact of this pandemic. Countries such as South Africa, who have not fully come to terms with 4IR and how to introduce and implement this in certain industries, have now had a rude awakening. Due to social distancing being a crucial part to reducing the spread of the virus, this has had, and will continue to have, a major impact on the Training and Education space
Training providers are facing various challenges which are hindering their ability to operate and survive, even those who have embraced the 4IR revolution and are finding it difficult to deliver their content. Where providers can deliver digital training, they are coming up against issues that companies are raising, such as having to ensure their workplace is COVID-19 compliant. This has resulted in them allocating budget to cover this cost for these regulations, so naturally the knee-jerk reaction is to cut costs in other areas, training being one of them. In cases where companies fully support online learning, there are electricity issues with learners and employees based in areas which do not have fibre or good connectivity. This creates huge disruption during the online learning.
Training providers who do not deliver their content digitally are not only finding it stressful to continue paying rental for premises they are not able to make use of or completely fill, but they also have facilitators who are finding it difficult to transition from traditional face-to-face learning to delivering online and live classes in most cases. The market has also seen a rise in suppliers coming to the forefront on e-learning systems and solutions - it is a mammoth task to try and identify the best solution that is cost effective for a provider who is struggling to keep afloat.
Even though the landscape is looking very bleak, many opportunities will arise - we are already seeing SETA’s starting to engage with their stakeholders through surveys and online Zoom, Teams or Skype meetings. This has resulted in increased communication with SETA’s which was previously lacking. Communication and engagement have all but moved online, ensuring people make a greater effort towards a more personal connection than before. All those in Training and Education should be capitalising on connecting with their clients and understanding how they would like to see training roll out and offer to conduct skills audits. This is the perfect time to engage with employees on a personal level and help businesses understand where the skills gaps are. Collaboration is also needed now by all those involved in the industry. It is an exciting time as the COVID-19 disruption will most certainly also accelerate digital strategies that have been lagging.