We’re all acutely aware of all the ways in which the coronavirus pandemic has turned the education system on its head. But the events of 2020 have also radically changed how professionals pursue learning. Businesses need proven ways to train their staff to meet the challenges caused by COVID-19. Plus, the workforce is facing an economy in which unemployment is on the rise—and training up and stretching skill sets could mean the difference between getting, keeping or losing a job.
In this new reality, skill-building is more crucial than ever. At Facebook, we’ve seen a spike in the demand for virtual learning since the start of the pandemic, with the number of people accessing Facebook Blueprint online learning growing 100 percent from Q1 to Q3 2020. With increased demand, employers have an opportunity to bolster their businesses from the inside out. Virtual learning helps employees feel connected to their work, to one another and to a greater goal—a challenge that every manager leading a team from behind a home office desk can relate to these days. It’s also an effective way to keep confidence levels up, which is all the more valuable without the face-to-face feedback office goers may be accustomed to. New (and sharpened) skills can keep people feeling self-assured, self-reliant and better able to take on their tasks. With much of the country’s workforce doing their 9 to 5 from home, the need for effective, engaging and accessible online training has never been greater.
Fewer workers, more skill versatility
Fewer dollars flowing into agencies often translates to fewer bodies on staff to carry out the diverse set of tasks at hand, from copywriting to media buying, planning, creative strategy and more. In the past, agency goals may have been achieved by assigning tasks to people in siloed roles. Today, challenges are often spread across a team. The goal is the same—help clients build brands and reach audiences in meaningful ways that drive results—but the means of getting there may need some tweaking from pre-COVID methods.
Online skills and training programs like Facebook Blueprint give managers a solution to the skills gap resulting from a crisis economy, offering an opportunity for the kind of cross-pollination training that diversifies employee skill sets and readies them to take on some of the slack that may be left behind in the wake of reorganizations. We’re living through a time of extreme ambiguity, where we’re all being forced to get more comfortable with the unknown. In these situations, focusing on what you can control is always a good place to start.
Luckily, for those looking to build on existing skill sets or gain new professional certifications to bolster employability, the options for online learning are plentiful. Looking to sharpen your media-buying skills? There’s a course for that. Want to try your hand at data science? It’s at your fingertips. Interested in becoming a certified advertising API developer? You’re merely hours away. Still, with all the excellent options out there across all of the different marketing platforms, there’s often a vital piece of the learning experience missing: a living, breathing instructor delivering that knowledge in a way that feels engaging and inspiring, and that leaves room for interaction and participation. With Facebook Blueprint Virtual Instructor-Led Training, marketers all over the world can take a deep dive into specific marketing products and solutions, all delivered in high-quality, easily digestible sessions led by instructors in real time.
In a global jobs market that increasingly demands highly specialized skill sets—especially as artificial intelligence continues to eliminate jobs—these types of programs can help safeguard professional futures while expanding knowledge bases. Virtual learning is also a great way to make you better at your job: After completing a Facebook Blueprint course, 87 percent of people reported improved knowledge, and 53 percent reported increased work efficiency. Programs like Facebook Blueprint Virtual Instructor-Led Training open the door to higher learning and professional training, democratizing education in the economic sense (all sessions are free) but also in the intellectual sense. One study even found that the quality of teacher feedback provided in a virtual setting can be superior than the feedback given in a classroom environment, with more focused and detailed information.
Keeping employees confident and connected
At a time when so many workers are dealing with Zoom fatigue, everyone from department managers to C-suite executives has to think of new ways to connect with their staff and keep feelings of isolation from taking hold. Pre-pandemic, nearly one-quarter of the U.S. workforce was working remotely, at least part of the time. Today, vast swaths of the population are working from home and away from co-workers for the first time, and the lack of face-to-face communication can be jarring.
Face-to-face learning sessions engage people not only with the work they do but also with one another. By giving employees the tools to continue performing to the best of their ability, agency owners can be sure their staff will stay the course with company goals, no matter the setting. Just as important, virtual learning platforms that offer face-to-face interactivity, like Facebook Blueprint, can help workers facing an unprecedented amount of change in advertising needs, economic behaviors and consumer media habits (not to mention slashed budgets and shrinking teams) stay connected—regardless of what the future might hold.