The Covid-19 crisis has prompted small businesses to ditch training in areas such as social media and instead brush up on traditional skills including sales and cash management, one company has found.

Many businesses have continued to train workers during the coronavirus lockdown, according to Cosmo Mellon of Talentpool, which specialises in aiding small and medium-sized enterprises in boosting their skills.

Contrasting almost 250 courses taken by businesses during the lockdown with the same period in 2019, Talentpool found its clients markedly shifted focus back to key skills.

Fashionable areas such as social media and web development fell out of favour, while businesses axed soft skills such as wellness and assertiveness.

Demand for sales training leapt from fewer than one in 100 participants last year to 16.76 per cent, around one in every six trainees, during lockdown. Marketing went to 14.45 per cent from 2.62 per cent.

More than 10 per cent of people took part in tax programmes during the crisis months this year against 6.56 per cent over the same period in 2020.

Procurement training courses attracted 10.4 per cent of trainees, against 3.28 per cent.

By contrast, demand for training in social media “skills” amongst businesses plummeted to 8 per cent – just one in 12 – from 22.3 per cent over the same time periods in 2020 and 2019.

Only 1.16 per cent of trainees signed up for web development this year, against 10.16 per cent in 2019.

Covid-19 wiped out demand for soft skills. No businesses signed up to train staff in wellness or assertiveness during the crisis period.

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Wellness drew 6.56 per cent of participants last year while 1.64 per cent signed up for assertiveness training.

Demand for start your own business training held steady at 19 per cent. General business dipped to 15 per cent from 17.38 per cent.

Mr Mellon described the shift in focus as astonishing. Covid-19 sparked a return to practical, old-fashioned business skills, he noted.

“It seems that in times of difficulty, people go back to basics and brush up the skills that have worked over generations,” Mr Mellon said.



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