Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to work we go!

Which dwarf has to stay at home with the rule of six? Happily since Snow White and her seven dwarves are in the same family bubble, they should be OK. 

The summer holidays are now a distant memory, the kids have gone back to school and the fortunate people with jobs to go back to have been relishing the opportunity to get properly stuck in to work with minimal outside distractions.  This blog reflects on our collective ‘return to work’ after the summer recess and questions whether it will ever revert back to pre-covid patterns of working. 

I personally saw the start of September as a key date to sharpen my focus, both in my work and personal life, after what seems like five months or so of ‘taking each day as it comes’.  In my work life I was operating at around 70% productivity in the preceding five months to September, with home schooling being added to the mix amongst other distractions.  Most of my business contacts with young children have relished the re-opening of schools so that they at least have some kid free time to be more efficient in their work life. September is when I consciously return the productivity dial back to pre-covid levels and enter the Autumn with a renewed vigour and spring (!) in my step. 

The late August/early September news (pre last week’s announcement of tightening of restrictions) was dominated by the Government’s call to arms around getting back into our places of work, if safe to do so, and supporting businesses, particularly those that have been so reliant on worker trade.  UK GDP fell by a record breaking 20.4% in Q2 (April to June 2020). In comparison, throughout the 2008 recession, GDP declined by no more than 2.1% in a single quarter.  GDP in July 2020 grew by 6.6%, which is the third consecutive monthly increase, but this has covered off just over half of the lost output as a result of coronavirus.  This is coupled with the recent news that 695,000 fewer people were on payroll in August 2020 compared to March 2020.  This is only going to increase as the furlough scheme winds down and companies look to remove costs in order to remain viable. 

Whilst it’s hard to ignore the ongoing covid doom and gloom, there do appear to be some green shoots of recovery.  Scouring the job boards shows that there are still a reasonable amount of roles out there – the challenge is that there will be many more candidates chasing down fewer roles.  We are helping candidates ensure that they stand out in that crowd.   I have just had an email from two of my clients who are looking to recruit into their team and need our help, which is the greatest number of new assignments we have had in a long while. 

This blog outlines four of my predictions in relation to changes at our work:

Working from home

Working 9 to 5 

Speaking to a variety of clients and candidates on a daily basis provides me with a great cross-sectional sample of how individuals (and businesses) are dealing with the pandemic.  Individuals are generally a little sick of constantly being on Zoom/Teams and having to stare at the same four walls of their office/bedroom/kitchen/lounge.  Quite a few people I speak to are now trying to break their lockdown routine by having a change of scenery once or twice a week.  Most are itching to engage face-to-face with their colleagues in some capacity.  There are a lot of benefits to home working but two downsides of it are the varying practicality of individuals being able to work from home and issues of isolation.  I recall one candidate I spoke to admitting that they just didn’t have the discipline to work from home. 

A lot of individuals are using the time to think about how work life will change post covid and if they have been used to a five day in the office pre-covid they are challenging the notion that they need to be in the office five days a week moving forward.  Many have proven that they can do a more than adequate job working from home.  I’d be interested to hear of any scientific studies that accurately quantify work productivity at home – anecdotal accounts suggest that home workers tend to start work earlier (as they don’t have the commute time to take into account) and are often working later as they are not subjected to that familiar signal at head office home time when co-workers start to leave.  True, there are distractions at home (deliveries, laundry, cleaning) but there are also may non-productive distractions in an office environment. 

Prediction 1: Finding balance

The days of the typical daily grind into an office are firmly over and will never fully return to previous patterns of commute. It is all about balance and I believe that many will settle on 2-3 days in the office and the rest of the time will be spent working from home (clearly this will depend on role/grade/location).  As long as this change doesn’t materially affect their ability to do their job.  This could also change the dynamic on where people live, relative to where they work; more on that in a future blog. 

Businesses, in the main, are being exceptionally flexible and supportive of their remote teams in coping with the pandemic.  There are some businesses that have closed their offices permanently and have no intention of getting a new office for the foreseeable future.  Most businesses are slowly opening up their offices, albeit with significant reductions in occupancy levels to ensure they remain covid-compliant.  These companies are often taking an individual level approach as everyone has a different perception of risk to the current pandemic.   This approach is contrasted by other businesses who are expecting colleagues to come in.  This is a scheduling/management challenge to have different groups of colleagues arriving on different days and starting/leaving at different times which has the potential to erode the face-to-face benefits of being in an office with colleagues. 

Prediction 2: More flexibility

Businesses in general need to improve their flexibility about how, when and where their teams work. If they fail to show flexibility to the new worker demands then they risk losing talent once the employment market recovers. 

I won’t be home for Christmas 

Prediction 3: Christmas sales suffer

Apologies for switching back to full on doom and gloom mode but the way things are going in the UK I think Xmas will effectively be ‘cancelled’.   Christmas is obviously a time for most families to come together but this year it will be very different.  Families will not be coming together in the way that they have traditionally.  I anticipate sales to be supressed at the grocers this Xmas (it will be interesting to see what the tone of their Xmas adverts will be this year) as the traditional seasonal uplift in spend from home family catering will be subdued.  The upside is there is likely to be less food waste! Average spend per household is likely to be down as people tighten their belts in anticipation of continued financial and economic uncertainty. I also anticipate the cost of domestic short-term holiday lets to sky rocket as more people will want to celebrate Christmas within their family bubble in a different setting. 

The Emperor’s New Clothes 

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about the impact these work changes have had on work attire.  Over the last 5-10 years I have seen a general ‘softening’ of work attire from very formal to smart business casual.  I can’t recall the last time I wore a suit and tie – it was probably for a wedding or a funeral.  This increased working from home has created an entirely new set of work/home combinations.  I have been relatively casual when working from home (particularly in the hot weather), opting for comfort over style.  When I know I have video calls, depending on who with, I will tend to change into smarter attire.  Workers attire has moved from smart formalwear to smart casual workwear (pre-covid), to a wardrobe of casual day wear that they supplement with an occasional smart casual outfit that comes out at video conference call times during the working day.   I am yet to meet someone who has conducted a Zoom call with a full suit, shirt and tie on.  Let’s face it, it’s much easier to quickly change when you only have to modify what you wear from the waist up. 

We have seen the demise of TM Lewin as a result of covid-19 and the other formal wear specialists will certainly be assessing their existing portfolios and product ranging in order to survive.  This will  also have an impact on dry cleaners, as their volumes will reduce across the board as people tend to wear apparel that can be washed at home. 

Prediction 4: Christmas best sellers

Christmas best sellers, particularly catering for middle aged professional males (such as myself), will be a nice selection of casual shirts and polo shirts (with colour coordinated face masks).

Time will tell how we all adapt and how much our lives change to make way for new and hopefully better working practises. 

I’d love to hear what you think the impact of covid will be on our future working patterns. Have you already begun to reassess how you want to work next year?  

Please let us know in the comments below and if you need some advice on how you can stand out from the crowd, get in touch on 07979 756257 or email steve@redtigerconsulting.co.uk 

Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

My first week as an apprentice

Throughout my time at college, despite enjoying studying and being relatively academic, university was never at the top of my list of paths to take after my A-levels. I took Business Studies, Geography and English Language, and after an unusual end to my college years I received BBB in my A-level results, and am currently waiting for my business studies appeal to go through (hopefully to an A). The fact I was unsure on my ideal career path, along with the growing student debt, meant I was on the search for alternative routes after college. After researching and learning more about apprenticeships, the idea of earning and learning seemed perfect for me. I applied for the Level 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship with Red Tiger Talent, in which I will receive a National Vocational Qualification (Level 3) after around 18 months.

Southport Office

Due to the current uncertain times, I wasn’t actively looking for a job/apprenticeship, and was considering continuing with my part-time shifts in a café, or looking for extra part-time work, for a year, or until an opportunity came along. However, I received an email from an “apprenticeship-finder” company who listed multiple business admin/marketing apprenticeships for me to potentially be interested in. The one with Red Tiger Talent particularly appealed me as it included areas from both administration and marketing, which I have had an interest in since starting business at college. I applied at the start of July and a week or so later had a call from Runshaw that I had been offered an interview. My first interview was through zoom, thanks to COVID, so I spoke to both Steve and Paul and they asked me general questions about myself and my experience and how I would approach the role. Shortly after, I received an email from Paul stating I had been accepted for a second interview, which this time would be face-to-face (socially distanced of course!). So I drove to Southport for a chat about the role and what I would hope to achieve if I was successful in becoming the apprentice. Within the same day, I had a call from Paul where I was offered the role and was set to start at the beginning of September.

On my first day at Red Tiger, I was introduced to the systems that I would be using and found out more about the business and what it does- a lot of information to take in! I learned that my duties include updating the customer database, along with helping with blogs and marketing on the business’ social media. Paul talked me through the different areas of Red Tiger, including Recruitment and Training, and how they are about to formally launch their Career Coaching services in the near future. Although the amount of information was slightly overwhelming, I feel I have a relatively clear understanding of the company so far and can see myself becoming more and more familiar in months to come.

Within my first week, I have listened in on candidate phone calls, watched multiple training videos and updated contact lists and candidate details. I’ve learned more about the type of jobs Red Tiger recruit for and how the process is carried out. Learning whilst on the job is much more interesting than simply learning at college, as with the 1:1 training I feel I am more engaged and can frequently ask questions. As well as being in the office, I’ve also had a small amount of days working from home, where I am set tasks to complete throughout the day, as well as sometimes having scheduled calls to join. On one of my days working from home, I joined a live webinar about Targeting on LinkedIn, which I made notes on, for me to use when I become comfortable with advertising on the site.

Within my next few months on the apprenticeship I hope to become confident using the systems introduced to me, and become comfortable with the marketing side, including advertising on social media platforms. I hope to get as much training as possible and to keep learning about different areas of the company, so that in a years’ time I will be capable of developing the marketing on social media, as well as being competent with keeping all the sites up to date. As well as this I plan to gain and improve skills on different software, like Excel, to widen my ability.

Algorithms Evolve – How human error, not Artificial Intelligence failed our A Level students

In a previous blog I waxed lyrical about how one benefit of COVID-19 has been the very clear use of data (not always the right data) and analytics/modelling to help drive decision making (not always the right decision!). Then the dominating UK news this week has been the right royal mess up over the A level results and the use of the ‘Algorithm’ to change some people’s final gradings, resulting in around 40% of results coming out lower than predicted. 

Exam results time is always stressful and there will always be winners, losers, and surprises in between.  The marking of most subjects is certainly going to be more art than science and in a ‘normal’ year there will always be a challenge around consistency of marking.  Allowing each student’s teacher to grade them is intrinsically going to impart bias that wouldn’t be there if it was handled by an external examiner.   This latest fiasco, with a last minute change in methodology, will mean that there is even more stress and uncertainly as a result.  There are students who have initially missed out on places who may now retrospectively get the grades they need and the place has been offered to someone else.   I personally think that the Universities with oversubscribed courses should scrap any offers to date and start the process all over again if it’s not too late to do so. 

Algorithms are becoming increasingly pervasive in our lives, and many people are not aware of their uses.  From insurance quotes based on home postcodes, to selective advertising on social media – our clicks, likes and location are being used by a number of Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms to, in theory, serve us appropriate content.  It doesn’t always work – the number of times I am promoted hair care products is testimony to that!  There are plenty of examples where there are good applications of AI, from insurance costs based on how you drive through data collected via a black box, to uses in healthcare where speedier diagnosis and access to the most appropriate treatment can vastly improve outcomes.   The algorithms are only as good as the data they utilise in order to develop their ‘intelligence’ and in a lot of cases require use of inferences that are wide of the mark.  Timandra Harkness (@TimandraHarkness) summed it all up quite nicely: “the data used by an algorithm to make a decision about you is largely about other people, rather than you personally”. 

I stumbled upon an excellent piece in the Guardian by Dan Davies who succinctly summarised the A level issue by saying: “The problem was fundamentally insoluble, from a mathematical point of view. If the system is dependent on exams to allocate the grades, but it can’t have the exams, then it can’t allocate the grades. No statistical method in the world is going to be able to give you good results if the information you’re looking for is fundamentally not there in the dataset that you’re trying to extract it from.”  It’s worth looking into his article in more detail: 

Read: This year’s A-level results are a fiasco – but the system was already broken by Dan Davies

Ofqual’s Research and Analysis Findings

Ofqual, the Examinations watchdog have published their findings on their whole approach (be warned, it is a 318-page extravaganza).

I’d love to hear from anyone who has read the report from cover to cover!  

Ofqual have to be held accountable for this and I’m sure Gavin Williamson will be getting some tips from Dominic Cummings on self-preservation. 

Download Awarding GCSE, AS, Alevel, advanced extension awards and extended project qualifications in summer 2020: interim report.

Life is a Roller Coaster 

It’s been a roller coaster in our household, with my step-son being one of the Covid-affected students who did not manage to sit his A level finals this year.  At the start of it all, when he realised he wouldn’t be sitting exams and they announced his grades would largely be based on his mocks, he was all for re-doing the whole year again.  Like many students he didn’t apply himself in the run up to his mocks and was aiming to knuckle down and achieve at least one grade above his predicted grades in his finals.  I advised him that as long as he got to a decent University, studying a good course, his A levels wouldn’t really matter in the long run.   Granted, employers still look at A level subjects and grades to get an insight into the person (e.g. are they Arts/Maths/Science focused) but grades and subjects aren’t necessarily a guarantee of success in a role – strong marks merely indicate that the candidate is good at study and retaining information for test in exam conditions. 

Fast forward to last week’s results day and my step-son was much more philosophical – he was a little disappointed with his final grades but happy in the knowledge that he had been accepted into his first choice University on his first-choice course.    I was also happy as he had achieved his aim whilst coming in below what I’d budgeted for when I offered him a financial, grades based, incentive to encourage him to put the effort in. 

These are some of my tips for the weeks ahead: 

  • Don’t Panic – September is only around the corner but there are a lot of people in the same boat.  I know that Universities will be bombarded with enquiries so please be patient but persistent in your enquiries.  Remember that the admissions folk will be working flat out to ensure they deal with it as quickly and fairly as possible. 
  • You are not Alone  Every individual is different in terms of what they got, compared to what they expected, and where they will end up.  But you are united in the fact that you are the class of COVID-19 and there will be outpourings of empathy for what you have had to experience. 
  • Universities of the UK Unite – This is easier said than done and I know there has been a lot of work to date, but I do think that most Universities will be overly accommodating to the current situation and do their best to help students who have been unjustly failed by the system.  If they aren’t, then imagine what they may be like when they have already collected your fee income?! 
  • Employers’ Empathy – As someone working in recruitment, I do believe that the class of 2020 will have a special place in peoples’ (HR and hiring managers) hearts. There will be a degree of leniency towards those who went through that year and the grades achieved.  If necessary, make sure you stand out in other ways – your passion, knowledge, skills, experience and drive will get you much further than your A level grades. 

What next for this class of 2020?   I personally think Ofqual should not be seeking to fit a ‘bell shaped curve’ or attainment quota to the distribution of grades and just go all out to award people the grades that their teachers felt they could have achieved.  So what if this year more people than ever got higher grades compared to previous years – they deserve it for the disruptions that COVID-19 and this marking fiasco have provided to them. 

For me personally, I wait with baited breath as my step-son is already anticipating an improvement on his grades, which will mean additional ‘incentive payments’ due from me.  The impact of COVID-19 could have further financial implications for me personally I’m afraid! 

I’d love to hear your thoughts… let’s have a heated debate!

Feature image: Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

What did I achieve in lockdown?

I write this blog exactly 20 weeks into ‘lockdown’ and the headlines are still dominated by the continued impact of the virus. Whilst restrictions are being slowly lifted (and in some cases reinstated) it is clear that a return to our once ‘free’ lives is still a while off.

In my capacity as a recruiter I have been speaking to a wide range of people over the last 20 weeks, from candidates that are either working or furloughed to those who have been made redundant or in the process of redundancy. One common theme throughout these conversations is how people are coping with the impact of the virus and also how they are utilising the time to their advantage. There is certainly more time and opportunity for reflection as the pace of life for most people, apart from key workers and those working with young children to look after, will have slowed down to some degree.

Some of my conversations have centred around what to do next in terms of career; people usually find themselves at a crossroads with a desire to move in a new direction. In these cases I am there to offer advice and act as a sounding board for any ideas they may have. Some conversations have covered ideas on how to utilise the time to further develop skills or gain new skills. In most cases these skills directly benefit their careers, in others it is trying something new that takes them away from their work life in some way.

In writing this blog I have been challenged to really think about what I have personally achieved in the last 20 weeks.

Work gains 

Despite the documented drop in activity with our core recruitment services, I have personally achieved quite a bit in the last 20 weeks. I didn’t think I had before I took the time to document what I have done in this blog – 20 weeks seems like a lot.

Red Tiger revenue in lockdown

The other two thirds of Red Tiger Talent was furloughed for the first month so I was essentially manning the fort with a variety of tasks: doing the admin, planning new initiatives, writing blogs, dealing with enquiries and, of course, speaking to people.

It’s good to talk – During this time I have been averaging five conversations a day with clients (existing or potential) or candidates (existing or new).  That means I have spoken to at least 500 people during lockdown.   That is more people than I have friends on Facebook.   These conversations have been everything from careers advice, dealing with redundancy, general chats about weather/football/lockdown, to supporting those suffering with mental health issues. 

The mother of all databases – ‘Libraries gave us Power’ as the Manic Street Preachers say on their song A Design for Life.  Red Tiger Talent’s library is twofold – it is the knowledge and contacts that Paul and I have in our heads and the second is our Recruitment CRM which contains extensive details of many candidates in our area of expertise.  It is never complete – there are always new candidates to add, and it is never up to date – people do naturally leave roles and start in new positions, but we constantly strive to ensure that this captures not only the skills and experiences of candidates but all information shared across the recruitment process. 

New ideas have been formulated – There is no doubt that it has been a good time for ideas. The challenge for Red Tiger Talent is to prioritise the development of these ideas and progress them from ideas to tangible business propositions.  Watch this space – some will be launched in the not too distant future (not sure why I suddenly had the urge to become all cryptic!). 

Excel training for the masses – This started as an idea to deliver face-to-face to university students and has evolved into a proven, focused online training course for beginner or intermediate Excel users, aimed at anyone wishing to boost their confidence and mastery of Excel.  We have had young to old participants, novice to experienced Excel users and we really thrive on the feedback on how our training has made a real tangible difference to their Excel knowledge and confidence.   The plan now is to supplement this training with a number of other courses (either in Excel, GIS, data analytics or a range of softer skills). 

Completed Zoom – I feel there are 3 levels of Zoom user

  • There are the Zoom clickers who click on a link and generally know how to mute/hide video and not much else. 
  • The second level is the Zoom enthusiast that certainly has a good knowledge of the standard user interface (these are the ones that mess around with the different backgrounds).  
  • I am firmly in the third and highest level – the Zoom Master – who not only can manage all the standard functionality, but can also work with some of the backend functionality, such as breakout rooms, recording and polling (Meeting Admin essentially). 

Which kind of Zoom user are you?

Home wins 

Alcohol free for 1.5 months – I decided that after spending April trying to drink and eat myself to death (rather than succumb to Covid-19) that it would be good to have a period of abstinence to alcohol. One month is for losers, so I decided to go dry for May and June but unfortunately a mid June birthday meant that I fell off the wagon with c15 days to go. I certainly felt better in those months – A dry period is currently being lined up for September and October (have to avoid any celebratory dates).

Just some of my vinyl collection…

Found time to listen to my vinyl – My wife bought me a vinyl player nearly 2 years ago and I have been making a real effort to grow my vinyl collection. The challenge has been in finding time to listen. Vinyl is not really like Spotify, where it’s so much easier to dip in and out. Vinyl, particularly LPs, are designed to be savoured and real time invested in listening. Click here to read, “The Vinyl Countdown”, which discusses the success of vinyl, despite the digital age of music.

Cooked restaurant quality food at home – I like to think that I am a reasonable cook when I have the time so when I heard about what Elite Bistros have done with their at Home offer I had to give it a try. Check out Elite at Home for more information. 

Elite Bistros At Home – All the Starters!

I shamelessly plug these guys at any opportunity – because they are local (to me), they are great, and I also have some vouchers tied up with them so I need to ensure they survive so I can spend them in their restaurants when they open.  The concept is simple – order from the menu from 9am on a Friday (be quick as they usually sell out) and you will have it delivered the following Friday (to anywhere in the UK) in a chilled container.  The recipes are pre-prepared in the Elite kitchens – all you have to do is add the finishing touches and generally cock up the plating up.   On the success of my meal I also order a meal for one for my Dad which he successfully cooked at home. 

Garage as it’s meant to be used (nearly) – How many of you who have garages actually use them for the principal purpose they were design for i.e. housing motor vehicles?   I have owned three houses to date with garages and it’s fair to say that a car has never set foot (tyre) inside it on my watch!  Our current garage was piled high with the usual debris associated with the combining of two households: boxes of household spares (pots, pans, toasters etc), garden implements (can’t think of a better collective word for all that stuff), and other debris that neither of us wanted to part with.  Lockdown brought the arrival of a large skip (which also took down our broadband for a few days after the driver sheared through the cable) and with the help of a ruthless weekend where we filled the skip I can now see the garage floor. 

My wife’s car… not mine!

There is still some way to go before I can get a ‘real’ car in, but lockdown has resulted in enough space to house a mini gym in there. No more excuses!

I am certainly interested in hearing all your lockdown achievements. Given that it’s likely we will be continuing with this way of life for the foreseeable future, I am interested in hearing other ideas – please add any of your achievements to the comments below. 

Feature image: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

It’s time to excel (at Excel)

I am delighted to announce that I have now got over a quarter of a century’s experience in the use of Excel. It is the first analytical package I used during my university studies and I have used it ever since.   I had a brief flirtation with Lotus 1-2-3 back in the mid 1990s (remember that one?) and have more recently dabbled with Apple’s Numbers but my loyalty to MS Excel is unwavering. 

It permeates my work life on a near daily basis and has even found room for use in my home life. My wife refers to me as ‘the spreadsheet geek’, amongst other things, and the tool is used at home for everything, from monitoring how my football predictions are going (conclusion, not very well), budget planning for our wedding or holidays, to Xmas card lists.  Yes I am proud to admit, I am a spreadsheet geek. 

It seems that I am not alone – Forrester research has found that 81% of businesses use Excel. Data Science purists will tend to look down their noses at Excel and want to demonstrate how you can do a lot more with Python or R, but these are not really tools for the masses. There are a number of excellent Business Intelligence (BI) tools, such as Tableau and Power BI, to help with distribution of fancy dashboards across the whole organisation, but Excel will always be a staple tool for data collection, aggregation, visualisation and analysis.

A good analyst will have a toolkit of software applications at their disposal and their choice will depend on the amount of data analysed, the time needed to get results, and the intended output/audience for the analysis.  There will always be a need for Excel. 

Choose the right training for you 

A year ago, we started planning our first formal training course in Excel.  Excel does not tend to be taught at University, or even at School or College, and so most people gain their Excel skills from learning ‘on the job’.   We had feedback from a number of our recruitment clients that Excel knowledge is rather lacking amongst graduates and saw the need to create some content for students. 

It is fair to say that there are plenty of online resources (free and paid for) that provide training in Excel, which serve a purpose for some.  A lot of these courses tend to focus on the volume of their content, covering a wide range of features across many hours of learning.  I personally struggle to stay focused on my favourite Netflix series, never mind watching someone speak on a pre-recorded video about a range of features and functions that I will never use outside of the training class. 

With most people being time poor we have decided to create a course that offers participants minimal investment of their time and maximum output for their learning.  In planning the course we took a representative sample of client businesses and contacted analytically focused individuals at those companies to better understand the most commonly used Excel features and functions. This is what we cover in the course. 

The Theory and the Practical 

We have taken on board our learnings from other training courses and have adapted our content accordingly.  Each participant on our Excel course will benefit from the following: 

  • 5 x 1 hour workshop sessions (via Zoom) where we run through all the required features and functions (with plenty of breaks in between). 
  • A deliberately restricted number of delegates to ensure that learning is optimised.
  • A set of clear and concise slides that outline the capability and syntax of each feature and function. 
  • An opportunity in the session for participants to try out each function using some training data. 
  • Further live demonstrations from the tutors on how to implement each function if required to re-inforce understanding. 
  • A detailed session into Excel best practice and hints and tips to make your workflows more efficient. 
  • A formal document (Spreadsheet) that covers each function and also provides examples of the uses/outputs. 
  • A self-study ‘real world’ exercise (typically taking between 2-4 hours) which tests each participants’ understanding of the workshop learnings and applies them to a test that closely mimics the type of request that an analyst may get in the workplace. 
  • For this exercise the tutors are available for support (via email, phone or Zoom) and, following submission of the answers, will provide each participant with a grade (pass or distinction) and constructive feedback. 

From Face to Face to Remote Training 

Our technical training courses have traditionally been delivered face-to-face in a training suite or lab.  We have re-purposed this course to be able to deliver it via live video conferencing (Zoom) and in doing so have been able to offer additional benefits to participants: 

  • Value for money – additional overheads, such as travel, room hire, lunch and refreshments are eliminated allowing us to offer the course at a very competitive price. 
  • Available to all – face-to-face courses will always restrict access for some due to travel practicalities.  In today’s ‘new age’, where travel will likely need extra justification (particularly on public transport), this means that participants are able to do the course in the comfort of their preferred location (be it home, office or co-working space). 
  • Scale of tutors – We tend to operate with 2 tutors per session.  One will be delivering the training whilst the other will be responsible for workshop management tasks: admitting participants, helping with any technical issues and monitoring the chat.   Whilst we do deliberately restrict the number of participants, it also means that we could get extra help on board to teach if required. 
  • Recording of sessions – All the workshops are recorded and shared with participants immediately after the session.  This means that those participants who are unable to attend a session (it sometimes happens) will be able to catch up, and those who are wanting to go over learnings again in their own time and at their own pace are able to do so.  It also negates the need for much in the way of participant note taking which means more time to dedication to understanding and application. 
  • Flexibility of courses dates and times – We are able to offer courses to suit participants’ availability, be it a full daytime course or over a series of evenings. 

Different Base, Different Pace 

The pre-requisites for the Excel course (aside from a Mac/PC running a recent version of Excel, plus the ability to use Zoom) focus on a basic to intermediate knowledge of Excel.  In any course it is rare for all participants to have exactly the same knowledge from the outset and we also recognise that pace of learning does differ from person to person.  We structure the course so that the very basic Excel training is done in the very first session and this isn’t compulsory for those who are at an intermediate level.  The course deliberately builds in complexity through the 5 workshops at which point all participants will have a renewed confidence in their own Excel skills.  

Whilst it would be unfair to adjust the pace of the content to the quickest or the slowest participant we deliberately plan the content to allow for extra time for further explanation and questions – so the sessions don’t tend to be rushed or overburdened with learnings.    

Those who are naturally slower, I would argue, prefer the online course as it is easier to discreetly take it at your own pace.  Face-to-face courses make that much harder.   They have the fallback of the recording and slides and we are also available for one-to-one support on the very rare occasions when specific concepts don’t really seem to be sticking. 

Learn and Adapt 

Each course is delivered live, with no pre-recordings, meaning that we can take comments and learnings from participants and implement changes for next time.   For example, the ‘real world’ exercise is supported with a set of instructions that start off very structured and gradually become less structured as the participant progresses through the answers.  We have now created a specific set of instructions for those intermediate participants, or those who would like to test their knowledge with a slightly harder task.  These instructions are consistently less structured, but participants can be safe in the knowledge that they can refer to the easier instructions if required. 

Excel for the Masses 

It is our view that most people deserve to have a reasonable level of understanding in Excel. Our course focuses on the key features and functions that are most useful for analysis. It arms participants with a range of support materials which will be useful for refresher training as well as ongoing application in their work, home or studies.

It is our mission to deliver the content of this course to a variety of participants, regardless of location, age, academic status and stage of their career.  With over 100 participants successfully completing this course to date we are confident that all will increase their confidence in Excel. 

For more information please click on the links below: 

  1. Course brochure (including details of the content)
  2. Course Dates and Fees

Or contact steve@redtigerconsulting.co.uk (07979 756257). 

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Photos by Lukas from Pexels