In our tough economic climate, employers – from small start-ups to major corporations – want to be sure that people are equipped to carry out the roles they need performed.
Sometimes this requires a specific qualification, but, often, particularly after graduation or once a person is already working, a short course that is relevant and specific is a far better indicator that the person has current skills than a qualification achieved years ago.
A short course normally takes anything between eight hours for a workshop to a few months to complete. The time varies, but what is normally needed is between eight and 120 hours of commitment from the person, although some are considerably longer. Today, many short courses are offered online, but there remains an ongoing interest in those that are presented face-to-face in groups because it is hard to match the interaction, collaboration and networking achieved this way.
In a recent review of the short courses that continue to attract enrolments on a face-to-face basis, the Independent Institute of Education’s key providers of short courses – Vega School and the Business School at Varsity College – confirmed that most students enrolled with the aim to ensure their skills were up to date and immediately applicable in the workplace, as it improved their career prospects.
There is a direct correlation between the demand for short courses and the corporate world’s demand that staff quickly take up a new role or responsibility. This is where short courses come into their own, as they give ambitious people what they need when they need it in an immediately implementable way.
There is no doubt that short courses are very much focused on career progression and new skills, and that few people have the personal resources or can get funded by their employers for “vanity courses” solely focused on personal growth. This is because of the state of the economy, but also because of the rapidly changing demands in the world of work.
Employers reward staff and seek new candidates who can demonstrate that they have achieved a solid grounding in a specific niche field, and that they are able to perform specific duties from the beginning.
Boosting your career or getting a foot in the door doesn’t always require full-time study over several years. Short courses are therefore a fantastic option for those people who need to upskill or wide-skill within a limited time; whose time to study is limited; or who need to demonstrate that they can meet a business need right away.
The most popular short courses at the moment are:
Short courses in business management remain very popular with those individuals who are progressing up the ladder at work and feel the need for a sound and quick exposure to key functional areas of responsibility for managers.
Many may go on to acquire more formal education or may already have a foundation that they are consolidating, but there is a strong correlation between workplace opportunities and enrolment in this short course.
In a tough economic environment, many existing managers and others recognise the potential that an ability to analyse and solve marketing challenges gives to achieving strategic advantage for business and for themselves.
Small business owners understand the need to market effectively, but do not always know how. Finally, those with a sales background find that a foundation in marketing is an effective way to increase their value to employers and enhance their earnings.
Given the complexity of virtually all environments, project management methodology continues to gain traction as a core competency for those who want to help move a company forward effectively and efficiently. There is broad recognition these days that project management is a skill set that can be taught and, if applied well, can result in success in difficult situations.
It is not surprising that this course, which gives core skills to those who are required to plan and complete projects in time and on budget, continues to be one of the most popular.
Supply chain and logistics management
Ever more managers understand that logistics and supply chains can make or break a growing business, so the demand for training in this core function continues to grow.
Brand management in a digital world
It is equally not at all surprising that several of the institute’s short courses that embrace technology for improved effectiveness are experiencing a surge in enrolments. These include short courses in digital brand strategy, desktop publishing and design, web design, copywriting for brands and gamification in brand building, as well as strategic brand leadership.
Companies that do not embrace these opportunities find that their grow will stall, while ever more people in small, medium and large businesses want the skills to manage their own brands in a digital world.
Kriel is general manager of the Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest and most accredited private higher education provider