The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have had a significant impact on training and education businesses. It has forced students and teachers to work remotely, connecting using video conferencing platforms and online learning systems. To date, we’ve seen schools connect over Microsoft Teams, music lessons take place over Zoom, even cooking classes go virtual on Instagram.
There have been teething troubles and moving a training or education business into the digital realm is a big leap. But it’s a necessary one. Lockdowns and remote working have fundamentally changed the business landscape, accelerating the pace of digitalisation. As a result, many businesses are unlikely to go back to inflexible pre-pandemic structures and are embracing digital solutions that can service a distributed workforce. Similarly, many people are looking to retrain or learn something new.
Superfast Business Wales, which provides free digital support for Welsh businesses, is here to help. Our free programme includes webinars and tailored one-to-one support, offering guidance and actionable advice for companies looking to move online. With the World Economic Forum estimating that “by 2025, 44% of the skills that employees will need to perform their roles effectively will change,” there is an overwhelming need for cost-effective and accessible training.
“Simply put, without [Superfast Business Wales] advice, we may not have survived the pandemic!” - Emma Blewden, Educalis
Take Educalis, for example. Founded by science tutor Emma Blewden, the company offers personalised education to children. When the pandemic forced schools to close, Emma’s business plunged from 65 students to five, and the cancellation of exams meant Educalis lost all the income from their revision sessions. Without immediate action, the business was at real risk of collapsing.
Emma’s plans to move to digital needed to be accelerated, at which point she contacted Superfast Business Wales for help.
“Superfast Business Wales provided us with in-depth information regarding our website and social media presence,” she says. “They have given us advice in terms of increasing visitors to our website and business pages and provided training to improve our search engine optimisation and social media marketing. They also made some really good suggestions in terms of transitioning from a face-to-face service to an online service.”
As Emma Blewden continues: “Our Superfast Business Wales adviser provided us with a report and ranking of our website and media presence, and gave us good advice that would boost our online presence. They also gave us some really good marketing tips for advertising on sites we hadn't considered previously.”
Consequently, staff were retrained, parents were informed about the new system by email, and Facebook ads were used to promote the new digital service. From a low point of providing 20 hours of tuition after Covid-19 hit in March 2020, Educalis rose back to near pre-pandemic levels in just two months. Feedback has been positive from pupils and tutors alike and, as with similar cases, the move to digital has not only secured Educalis’ business but expanded its client base, bringing in new customers.
“We are incredibly grateful for Superfast Business Wales’ support and advice,” adds Emma. “Simply put, without their advice, we may not have survived the pandemic!”
3D Learning Solutions has a similar story to tell. The Newport-based company specialises in the private tuition of children with dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia. Former science teacher Jo Bold set up the business in 2017, when she began part-time tutoring with just three pupils. Two years later and it had grown to encompass 10 tutors providing support for more than 70 children. But then Covid-19 arrived.
“I found the support and advice from Superfast Business Wales invaluable” - Jo Bold, 3D Learning Solutions
“When the first lockdown happened,” she says, “the business stopped trading overnight. But I needed to find a way to support the children we had been teaching. I chose to use Zoom because it is easy to use and some parents were already familiar with it… I needed to start the business again from scratch and so began doing a few lessons for those who wanted them. Before long, many of the children who had been having lessons prior to lockdown started to come back to us.”
By the end of April 2021, six out of the original 10 tutors had returned to work and they now operate almost exclusively online. From zero income back in March 2020, a year on and Jo’s company was almost back to its pre-Covid income and the business continues to grow. There has been a month-on-month increase in traffic to the 3D Learning Solutions website, she tells us, with a three-fold rise in enquiries from new customers compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“I found the support and advice from Superfast Business Wales invaluable,” says Jo. “It gave me the confidence to make the switch to online support for all our learners. In fact, the vast majority of our lessons will remain online for the foreseeable future, with face-to-face support now only taking place in schools. We’ve found that we can now work over a wider geographical area, providing support to staff and learners across a number of local authorities.”
The pandemic pushed Jo to make a change that, in an era of increasing digital transformation and online business, was inevitable. If you would like to upgrade your own business, big or small, register for Superfast Business Wales support. You’ll learn how to move your business to a digital platform, or optimise the online presence you already have, giving you the ability to be more resilient and reach new customers. The workshops, advice and feedback are all free, followed up by tailored one-to-one support designed to help you make the most of online technology.