Over at Interconnect IT, where I work, we’ve found that demand for our WordPress Training Courses has shot up over the past year or so. And it’s certainly interesting to see where the work comes from.
Curiously, it’s very polarised – we either work with smaller one man band companies like Jason Nevin who runs a house removals company site who are looking to switch technologies, or big corporates and government agencies such as Shop Direct, The US Mission to the UN and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
I’ve been thinking about why there’s such a big dip in the middle of our client base – 90% of our business is groups with over 500 staff or with fewer than three.
Small, one man companies tend to involve highly motivated individuals. They understand the important of their skills, and they know that in the tech sector they have to always stay up to date. Large corporates tend to understand this too, and have allocated training budgets to make sure they keep up to date. Government departments are often a little slower with new technology, but they too need to keep efficient or tax payers will kick up a stink.
And WordPress is a very efficient platform for running many informational websites.
But why are medium sized companies not coming to us in nearly such large numbers as micro enterprises and large corporates? Let’s see…
I’ve noticed that medium companies often have people who are extremely good at what they do, but I do find that there are often significant skills gaps. I’ve dealt with someone from a school (medium) who didn’t realise that you don’t have to close an application in Windows in order to see another application. Each time she cut and paste she’d open one document, select the text, close the document, then open the receiving application and paste the text there. Productivity, as you can imagine, was pretty poor.
I think a lot comes from budgets – many firms around the 50 people size aren’t always able to make good money. They have to be careful where they spend it – they’re not big enough to have training departments who make sure everyone is up to date, and they’re usually busy.
Another thing with smaller firms, I believe, is that they’re often started by individuals with a lot of skills – these are flexible folk who can teach themselves and learn quickly from books and the internet. As they grow they try and hire similar people, but eventually there comes a point where a lot of staff are there for the job. They need training because they aren’t going to go to the trouble of autodidactism. They have a job to do, and they’re going to do that and no more or less.
At best, they’ll get on-the-job training.
We don’t do a lot of it, to be quite frank. But perhaps our website, approach and costs simply don’t ring true with people in medium sized companies looking for WordPress training? Do we need to get advertising in business magazines, such as those sent out by the FSB?
I suspect that the truth is that a company always needs to look at the skills of staff, but as they reach a certain size they have too much going on to give it much thought. Once they break through that difficult 50 man barrier things seem to start to change again.
But how do we change this? I’m not sure we can, easily. Governments often give generous grants, and around here we have Skillworks which helps a little, and we do get local approaches – however, the person paying still has to pay a significant contribution and specialist training is never all that cheap.
Do you have any ideas of how skills can be improved in small to medium sized enterprises? Should we be marketing our courses more proactively? What about scheduled classroom courses that keep things at a lower cost, albeit needing more time from the attendees? I’d love to hear your thoughts – especially in the field of WordPress.