Tag Archives: elearning

Have A Nibble On These Bitesize Videos

Take a 2 minute  break from your hectic schedule to join Tania Seary. She’ll help you to dig a little deeper, inject some sparkle and rise to the top in your procurement career with these new videos.

 

 

Finding and keeping up with the most intriguing, and useful, procurement content online can put you ahead of your peers. But who has the time in their working day to go looking for it, or spend hours at a time absorbing it?

At Procurious, we know and understand your need to prioritise to ensure every minute you spend on social media is a minute well spent, which is why a lot of our online content is concise and gets straight to the point!

That’s certainly the case with our latest batch of eLearning videos, featuring Procurious’ founder, Tania Seary.
In this six-part series of two minute videos Tania offers some top procurement advice on networking, driving change within your team, hiring new talent  and making it to the top!
These videos are perfectly designed to be small enough for you to have a little nibble on at your leisure but guaranteed to fill you up with handy career tips.
Here’s a quick summary of what you can expect:

Network Your Face Off

Tania believes that networking is in procurement’s DNA and a key contributing factor to making it to the top! If you could benefit from a few handy networking tips, take Tania’s advice and get connected to get ahead!

The Disney Approach to Procurement

Is it possible that Disney has the magic formula for driving change management success in your procurement team? Adding a little Disney sparkle to your program might just be the solution to your problems. Here’s how to embrace the book, the film and the ride.

My 5 Killer Interview Questions

If you’re looking to hire new recruits any time soon, this is the video for you! Tania explains the importance of creating a good culture within your businesses. The best way to do that is to find people who are the perfect fit during the recruitment process by asking these five killer interview questions.

You Don’t Have To Be a Genius In Procurement

We all like to think that we’re some kind of procurement genius, that we can solve all of the world’s problems. But in truth, some of these problems are just too big for us to solve alone. Tania explains why collaboration is key.

Five Sure Fire Ways To Become A CPO

If you want to make sure you’re the procurement cream that rises to the top, you need to hear Tania’s five top tips for becoming a CPO. Start out by filling your trophy cabinet…

How To Strike Gold When Seeking A Mentor

This video is all about myth-busting. Tania explains why there’s absolutely no such thing as being too old for a procurement mentor. If you’re  yet to embrace reverse mentoring, now’s the time. Dig a little deeper and you’ll strike gold!

If you’d like Tania Seary to speak at your event, contact Olga Luscombe via olga.luscombe@procurious.com or visit TaniaSeary.com for more details. 

eLearning Videos: It’s The Final Countdown

They say all good things must come to an end, and,  sadly it holds true for our FREE e-Learning videos. The good news? You’ve still got a little time to enjoy them! You’ve got four weeks to access our eLearning course “Introduction to Procurement” for FREE: enrol here

Good times don’t last forever, and boy has Procurious had some good times in the last three years – don’t worry, that’s not going to change anytime soon!

What is about to change, however, is the pricing of our eLearning videos, which you can find in the Learning Area of Procurious.

If you’ve been with us, and supported us, from the beginning, you’ll know that our fantastic eLearning course, Introduction to Procurement, is currently available to our members free of charge.

But, on the 30th June, everything changes. The entire course of 17 modules, covering everything from Profiling the Supply Market to Developing a Scope of Work and Negotiation for Procurement will  instead be available for the price of USD$135.

Get ’em while they’re hot* (*FREE)

We’d hate for you to find yourself half-way through our eLearning course, which you’d started for free, and suddenly faced with a charge.

We also want to give you, our loyal Procurious members, plenty of notice and opportunity to share the course with your networks and procurement teams, before the new pricing comes into effect.

Tell your mother, tell your father, tell your sister and your brother (and, most importantly, your procurement peers) that they’ve got four more weeks to enjoy the course free of charge! With over two hours of video footage, you better get started. Go, go , go!

About the eLearning course

Introduction to procurement provides the optimal foundation for tomorrows procurement leaders. Structured around our own six-step strategic sourcing tool, participants will acquire strong commercial skills across a broad range of procurement functions.

But it starts off simple. If you’ve ever wished you had an easy and pain-free answer to that awful question from a distant relative, “So…what exactly is procurement?” here’s your answer:

The course progresses to highlight all aspects of the procurement profession. It gives you food for thought on your own approach and capabilities. It discusses topics such as the value of procurement, processes, market research, negotiating, strategy, social procurement and much more.

Module 6, for example, focuses on Spend Analysis:

What happens after 30th June 2017?

From the 1st July, the course will be available for USD$135 (£110) and includes:

  • 2 hours of on-demand video
  • 14 supplemental resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of completion

Don’t forget there’s a whole host of free eLearning content on Procurious ranging from podcasts to webinars and videos.

That’s right! The majority of our eLearning content will still be available completely for free!

Following the eISM Yellow Brick Road – A Guide to Guided Learning

We’re at the beginning of the yellow brick road, folks. This course is the foundation of all ISM’s educational offerings.

yellow brick road

Time zones can make things difficult. When I first signed up for ISM’s Fundamentals of Purchasing Guided Learning, I was resigned to the fact that I’d probably need to get up in the middle of the night here in Australia to join a series of four live webinars, broadcast from ISM’s head office in Arizona.

Luckily, it didn’t turn out that way at all. ISM ran their webinars after work hours in the US, which meant I could join them at the very civilised time of 9.30am. So, with headphones in and a cup of coffee within reach, I started my first foray into guided eLearning.

The Yellow Brick Road

When Dr. Wade C. Ferguson, (President, Erv Lewis Associates, LLC) compared the course to the beginning of the yellow brick road, he was referring to ISM’s comprehensive Mastery Model, a set of competency-based standards for the profession.

At first glance, the model is dauntingly large, with 16 main competencies and over 70 sub-competencies to choose from. However, once you break it down to essentials that are relevant to you, and chart out the competencies you wish to specialise in, it all begins to make sense.

Every competency in the Mastery Model is linked to one or more ISM Training (or eLearning) offerings. In addition, this particular course sits across a whole suite of introductory-level sub-competencies.

Access Anywhere, Any Time

Essentially, Guided Learning is self-paced eLearning with an instructor. The course ran over four weeks, with 16 modules, four of which were live webinars facilitated by the procurement and supply management veteran, Dr Ferguson.

The remaining 12 modules were homework, to be completed between the webinars. Each of the “homework” modules delivered information in an engaging mixture of multimedia, including ISM’s micro-learning videos, voice recordings or plain reading. The modules then always ended with a quiz to check knowledge and comprehension.

The main benefit of guided learning would have to be that you can take the course without leaving your home or office. This is vital for professionals who don’t have the time, or travel budget, necessary to attend training in-person. It also means that people like me can join from over 13,000 kilometres away.

The flexibility this offers is fantastic. One of the four live webinars caused a clash in my schedule, but this wasn’t a problem at all. I simply accessed the recording from the learning portal to watch later in the day.

The Guided Experience

Dr Ferguson drew upon his 40 years of industry experience to pepper his instruction with illustrations from his own career in supply management and education. The course covered, as expected: fundamentals of supply management; legal considerations; category management; contract formation and management; and finally, negotiation skills.

Here are some gems from Dr Ferguson’s webinar commentary:

  • Future-oriented procurement: “We have to be proactive, anticipatory, and not just react to a buy signal. It’s about the identification of what is needed, both now and in the future.”
  • Changing business priorities: “You know, flexibility has got to part of what we do every day. At some point you’re going to have a new CEO coming and totally upsetting the apple cart. What are you going to do?”
  • Vision statements: “When organisations express their cultural aspirations, they typically flow down through the organisation and find a home in the supply function.”
  • Social responsibility: “Find some small areas where your function can really make a difference”.
  • Strategy: “A roadmap without a destination isn’t very useful – it’s just spinning your wheels.”

The only thing I felt I was missing out on in the eLearning experience was getting to know my classmates. It’s like sitting in a movie theatre full of invisible people all watching the same thing. You know they’re there, but there’s no way to see them, or talk to them.

The instructor had a great deal to get through, but I would have appreciated him pausing for a moment to talk about who was online, where they’re from, what they do and the companies they represent. That being said, there was a discussion board available in the learning portal where you could introduce yourself.

On My Way

To circle back to Dr Ferguson’s ‘Wizard of Oz’ analogy, I feel I’ve taken some significant steps along the Yellow Brick Road of ISM Mastery over the past four weeks. There was a huge amount of information compressed into the course’s 16 modules, but the self-paced aspect made the workload feel very manageable.

Find out more about eISM here. Registrations are also now open for ISM2017 – click here for more information.

Why Wait? Come to Training in Your Pyjamas

Have you ever had that nightmare where you’re wearing your pyjamas in class? With new training from ISM, your nightmare can be a reality (in a good way!).

Training in Pyjamas

I’m in training. I’ve got my laptop open on the table in front of me, a nice warm drink, and I’m waiting for the trainer to appear. A striking-looking instructor comes into view, walking slowly and deliberately in heels.

She’s wearing her ginger-coloured hair pulled back in a ponytail, quite a lot of blue eyeshadow and vivid red lipstick. She appears to have had eyelash extensions.

I sit up a bit straighter in my chair, before glancing down and realising with a shock that I’m wearing my pyjamas.

What is Micro-Learning?

But that’s okay, because it’s 9pm and I’m comfortably ensconced in a warm study in my own home. The kids have finally gone to bed and the dishes are done, so I’ve taken the opportunity to squeeze in one of ISM’s Just-in-Time Learning sessions, led by a flame-haired, animated instructor.

I’ve chosen a session called “Sourcing Strategy based on Forecasted Data”. At 8 minutes and 30 seconds, it removes my usual excuse about being too time-poor to invest in training. According to ISM’s Senior VP of Programs and Product Development M.L. Peck, this is what micro-learning is all about.

“People are craving content that address specific needs at specific times”, says Peck. “Micro-learning takes a ‘just-for-me, just-in-time, and just-enough’ approach”.

Training Essentials

This works for me, as my attention span seems to be diminishing rapidly as I grow older. The animated instructor’s voice has a slightly robotic quality, but she’s convincing enough.

She moves around the screen, gesticulating with one hands with the other resting on her hip. She (I’m not sure if the instructor has a name) even blinks and waggles her eyebrows as she drives each point home.

The instructor rapidly takes me through the advantages and disadvantages of the various types of sourcing – spot buying, buying to requirements, forward buying and speculative buying. As she talks, animated graphics appear and disappear next to her.

The content itself is drawn from ISM’s impressive global network of subject matter experts, who have created a remarkable library of digital knowledge.

The animation is interspersed with a video of Kevin from ISM, a (human) instructor who gives a real-world example of a restaurant owner who uses each of the four buying types as circumstances demand.

Sharing Essential Skills & Knowledge

Each Just-in-Time learning video has a different style. Some feature animated characters such as this, while others are led entirely by real instructors.

There are whiteboard animations, live interviews with executives and leaders in the profession, short lectures from industry experts, fun activities, games and flashcards.

This style of learning isn’t designed to be a deep-dive, but is a fast and effective overview of essential procurement skills and knowledge. Viewers can choose to explore further through eISM’s Guided Learning and Self-Paced learning options.

This particular video, however, is packed with fast facts, statistics, definitions from the ISM Glossary. It also includes real-world examples about sourcing strategies. By the end of the eight-and-a-half minute video, I have three pages of notes.

And what’s more, I even have time to sneak in another training video before my drink goes cold!

Learn More (in Pyjamas if you Want!)

Procurious now hosts three of the eISM Just-in-Time learning videos here on the website. Simply click on the “Learning” tab, or follow the links below to view:

For the full suite of eISM learning options, visit the ISM website.

Peer-to-Peer Learning – The Evolution of Professional Development

Learning is no longer confined to a classroom. Peer-to-peer learning is fast becoming the primary avenue for professional development.

peer-to-peer learning

The labour market is tightening, which means the need to engage, retain and up-skill your existing resources is growing. However, individuals and organisations are moving away from traditional approaches to learning and development, such as classroom-based learning, due to rising costs and geographically dispersed teams.

In the latest evolution of professional and personal development, there is a greater emphasis is now being placed on social media and peer-to-peer learning. And while, in the past, quality of content was seen as a major issue in using e-Learning, more high-profile organisations are realising the benefits of both creating and sharing their own content.

Peer-to-Peer Benefits

The nature of social media is inherently suited to peer-to-peer learning:

  • It is a highly effective method of sharing information – people can learn real-life, applicable lessons from subject matter experts from all around the world.
  • The e-Learning resources are very accessible – they can be accessed from multiple devices, at a time and place that is convenient for the learner (and their organisation too).
  • Perhaps most importantly, it’s a very cost effective way to learn – savings are made on travel, employee time, and residential courses, and the vast majority of e-Learning is totally free.

Take global mining organisation, Rio Tinto, as an example. The organisation has a very widely dispersed employee based, with over 35,000 people spread around the world. Realising the cost of bringing employees together for classroom-based training, Rio launched their own learning academy in 2014.

Employees have access to relevant, and high-quality, materials wherever they are, and can study at their own pace, at a time that suits them.

Procurement Podcasts

Across social media there are a number of portals and platforms that support peer-to-peer learning, offering free, downloadable e-Learning content in the field of procurement. One of these is SoundCloud – a free, online sharing platform for audio and visual content.

Soundcloud Podcasts

A simple search for ‘procurement’ on the platform provides over 500 podcasts from over 100 contributors, including the BBC and Buyers’ Meeting Point. The platform is easy to access via a web browser or its app, enabling users to listen to the podcasts on the go.

You can also find quality, procurement-related podcasts from a huge range of other sources. Here are just a few we have selected:

  • AT Kearney Procurement & Analytics Solutions – the renowned ‘Wave of the Futurepodcast series covers key topics for procurement leaders through interviewing subject matter experts and thought leaders.
  • Art of Procurement – hosted by Philip Ideson, the AoP Show invites procurement professionals and experts to share their views on the hot topics impacting the profession.
  • My Purchasing Centre – this podcast series has its finger on the pulse of the profession, sharing information and thought leadership on major topics and events.
  • Institute of Supply Management – ISM offers an ever-expanding library of audio podcasts covering a broad spectrum of supply management and general business topics.

Procurement Videos

If videos are more of your thing, you can find plenty available on YouTube (just don’t get lost with all the other videos you can inevitably lose an hour or more with…!).

One of our recent finds are videos from The Procurement Man (better known in real life as Neil Hudson). Neil has a selection of videos sharing his experiences and knowledge from a career in procurement. You can find his videos here, and see an example of one below:

And finally, you can of course find plenty of procurement and supply chain related videos right here on Procurious. Take your pick from procurement training, thought leadership and business research from a variety of experts from around the world.

However you choose to learn, and however you do your professional development, there is a good chance that peer-to-peer learning will be able to support your goals. Just find the right platform for you, and get stuck in!

ISM’s Jim Barnes: three major L&D challenges for procurement

Are you clear about the capabilities your role requires? Do you regard yourself as financially acute? Does your organisation have processes in place to capture vital knowledge from departing professionals as they retire?

Jim Barnes

Jim Barnes is a busy man. He’s the managing director for ISM Services, the Institute for Supply Management’s team learning and development arm, and the nature of his role means he’s on the road, or in the air, for much of his working week. His team and its affiliates are truly global, working around the clock with top corporations across the US, Latin America, Europe and Asia – in Barnes’ words, “the sun never sets on ISM Services”.

Procurious was lucky enough to get some time with Barnes at ISM2016 in Indianapolis. We asked him for his top three concerns for the future of learning and development in procurement. From his unique viewpoint near the pinnacle of one of the biggest supply management associations in the world, Barnes sees the following three shared challenges:

1. Lack of clarity around procurement roles and competencies

With procurement role definitions and responsibilities becoming increasingly fluid in modern businesses, Barnes has become aware of confusion around what many roles actually entail. “We’re seeing a lack of alignment between job roles and organisational needs. There’s also a lack of clarity in what it takes to get to the next level in your procurement career”.

ISM’s solution was to launch the Mastery Model, which CEO Tom Derry has referred to in the past as “the world’s greatest collection of job descriptions”. All of ISM Services’ content and training now maps to this model, and it’s part of Barnes’ role to ensure the model itself stays relevant in a fast-changing profession. “We’re constantly updating the Mastery Model”, he says. “That’s the whole point – procurement has moved so fast that we’ve almost outstripped the ability to have formalised career structures, but the model is designed to stay ahead of the latest trends.”

ISM Services surveys individuals to determine their competency levels across no fewer than 73 sub-competencies in the Mastery Model, identifying individual or group-wide gaps and devising a targeted investment plan for training and career feedback.

“There are so many ways people can be up-skilled”, says Barnes. “It could be formal training towards ISM’s CPSM or CPSD, or eLearning, or on-the-job mentoring and coaching. It’s all about targeted investment to address identified gaps. Most importantly, the Mastery Model helps procurement professionals understand what competencies they need to excel in their current roles, and what skills they’ll have to master to move to the next step in their careers.”

2. Procurement professionals need greater financial acumen

“If you’re in procurement, you need to ensure you have a basic understanding of business finance and accounting. For example, when selecting suppliers, you should be able to look at the financial data around their business to understand their dynamics”, Barnes says.

Being able to speak intelligently about finance will greatly benefit your ability to engage internal stakeholders and talk their language. “This is especially important when engaging with Finance, of course, and the C-level will expect you to have a good grip on business finance.”

Barnes says that more and more universities are offering quality courses in procurement and supply chain that address the gap in financial knowledge. “We’re seeing some terrific graduates coming out of these courses, including this year’s impressive group of Richter Scholarship recipients”.

Barnes’ advice to newly-minted graduates looking for a great role in procurement? “You’ve got to be willing to travel’, he says. “Lots of manufactures have plants in regional areas, often in the middle of nowhere – we can’t all land jobs in San Francisco”.

3. An ageing workforce

US electricity and gas company Duke Energy, says Barnes, is a prime example of the ageing demographic in procurement. “Over the next five years they’ll lose two-thirds of their supply chain staff. They’re replacing 200 people a year”. Barnes’ main concern with the demographic shift is capturing lost knowledge. “Of course there’s going to be a ‘brain drain’ – companies need to be very proactive about capturing as much knowledge from outgoing professionals as possible. But it’s also an opportunity to shift the skill set in procurement from old-school tactical to cutting-edge strategic.”

Barnes notes that ISM is on the front foot when it comes to developing millennial talent, most noticeably in its 30 Under 30 Supply Chain Stars program (in partnership with THOMASNET.com) and through its innovative eLearning initiative.

“The eISM online learning options make skills acquisition so much more accessible. We’ve now got people in remote places accessing our guided learning by webcam – they may not have been able to attend a workshop in person due to time constraints and travel expense. Trainers have to be able to accommodate people’s needs – and some procurement and supply chain professionals simply can’t find the time to leave their jobs”.

Virtual learning benefits trainers, too

On a personal level, Barnes is very pleased about the increasing popularity of virtual learning. “There’ll always be a need for face-to-face learning, networking and workshops, but one of the great benefits for me is that hopefully I won’t need to be on the road quite so much in the future!”

Editor’s Choice: 5 Big Ideas to energise your day

On April 21st, 50 of the world’s most influential procurement minds joined forces with over 14,000 digital delegates to crowdsource Big Ideas for the future of procurement.

Big Ideas

By popular demand, we’ve brought together five thought-provoking Big Ideas from some of the biggest names in procurement.

Big Idea – Millennial Talent Response


Nic Walden, Director – Procurement P2P Advisor at The Hackett Group, talks about the greater expectations that Millennials have for job roles.

From expectations about working on CSR projects and building sustainable relationships, to the technology that they will be working with, Nic argues that procurement needs to change the way they engage with the Millennial generation in the workplace.

Big Idea – Maximise Social Impact


Hugh Chamberlain, Commercial Procurement Lead at Johnson & Johnson, challenged procurement professionals to buy from social enterprises in his Big Idea.

Buying from these enterprises can help add value to society, the community and the planet, as well as giving buyers immense personal satisfaction.

Big Idea – Everyone Can Contribute


Nathan Ott, CEO e.g.1 Ltd and Director at The GC Index Ltd, argues that while not everyone is a ‘Game Changer’, everyone is capable of making a game-changing contribution, from the top to the bottom of the organisation.

However, in order to do this, organisations need to create a culture where it is safe to fail, and these ‘Game Changers’ are not seen as disruptive, pigeon-holed, or made to conform. Only by doing this can organisations create real step change.

Big Idea – Harness the Crowd


Lisa Malone, GM – Europe at Procurious, talks about how procurement can lead organisations in harnessing the power of the crowd, and the concept of ‘hackathons’ in order to drive innovation.

Hackathons provide an opportunity to work on the business, rather that in the business. They give employees the chance to take time out and come up with new ideas, and communicate and collaborate with people they would not have the opportunity to do so with otherwise.

Big Idea – Challenging Traditional Procurement


Lee Gudgeon, Client Engagement Director at REED Global, says that the increasing role of procurement has highlighted a shortage of candidates with the right skill sets available to come into the profession.

Lee argues that procurement recruiters also need to be up-skilled in order to recognise the relevant skills and capabilities required in procurement, in other functions, and open up the market to people who might otherwise have been overlooked.

Want to see more Big Ideas? Check out our extensive library containing two years’ of Big Ideas from some of the world’s leading thinkers in procurement.

eISM – Introducing the Future of Learning

People don’t want a one-size-fits-all solution for their professional development. eISM aims to provide a set of flexible options to take e-learning forward.

eISM Learning on Demand

Whether skills are learned through small chunks, longer competency-based training, or direct job experiences, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to gaining career knowledge and experience.

ISM’s Senior VP of Programs and Product Development, M.L. Peck, understands this, and has made it the foundation of ISM’s exciting new eISM initiative. “E-learning is the future of learning – it’s how our customers are consuming information”, says Peck. “But just like face-to-face learning, it has to allow for individuals’ learning styles”.

That’s why ISM has come up with no fewer than three completely different methods for varied learning styles within its eISM offering: Just-in-Time learning, Self-Guided learning, and Guided Learning. It’s up to the user to choose the method that best fits in with their busy schedule and learning style.

ISM’s e-learning is designed to support ISM’s Mastery Model, providing the training needed to equip practitioners with the skills and certification to master various competencies and sub-competencies within the model.

The content itself is pulled from ISM’s impressive 101 years of supply chain leadership, drawing upon its global network of subject matter experts to create a remarkable library of digital knowledge.

Just-in-Time Learning

Peck talks about the “just-for-me, just-in-time, and just-enough” approach. For example, if you have a negotiation in an hour and need an answer immediately, all you have to do is search for your answer based on Mastery Model competencies and sub-competencies. You’ll find the answer they’re looking for in a short video of no more than 15 minutes in length (micro-learning). Information is delivered in multiple, engaging methods, including:

  • whiteboard animations,
  • live interviews (Q and A’s) with executives and leaders in industry,
  • short lectures from industry experts,
  • fun activities, games and flashcards.

Self-Paced Learning

Self-paced learning courses are longer, on average an hour in length each. Users are given access to a wealth of knowledge with which they can create their own schedule and work at their own speed. This method is ideal for exploring a broad topic, or for diving deep into a sub-competency.

Guided learning

Nothing will replace the benefits of face-to-face learning, but eISM’s Guided Learning comes close. It includes an online instructor and peer-learning, ideal for people who want to make contact with the subject-matter experts or who are uncomfortable with learning a completely new concept alone.

The facilitated courses range from three to five weeks in length, running five days per week, in which the learner logs on and completes an activity of approximately 40 minutes each, or participates in a 1-hour weekly webinar (to be viewed live or recorded). The facilitator sends reminders to complete exercises.

Getting started

For more information on eISM, including subscription and pricing, visit the Education Area on ISM’s website. The best way to start is by using ISM’s self-assessment tool, which will rate your skill-set against the Mastery Model sub-competencies and identify gaps in your knowledge.

From there, find the learning approach that best suits you, whether it’s small, focused micro-learning, longer self-guided courses or the facilitated classes. “People are craving content that address specific needs at specific times”, says Peck. “eISM offers our customers that choice”.

Your Number 1 Resolution – Learn Something New

This is the time of year when most of our resolutions (lose 10lbs, get back to the gym, drink less, do something useful for the community) have fallen by the wayside. There’s one thing you can still do to make a difference in your life – learn something new.

Learn Something New

If you are a millennial, you probably know plenty about social platforms and the innermost workings of WhatsApp, but what about taking a course in supply chain dynamics or an appreciation of jazz? You can learn about almost anything on-line, and most of it is free.

Find a MOOC to suit you

MOOC stands for a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). These courses are offered by universities and other quality education providers via the internet and are free. There is a huge range of subjects that have quality content, although they do not normally provide certificates or academic credits on completion.

Many of the courses are developed by universities, but are structured and presented by training organisations, like edX, using specific technology that supports interactive and other forms of on-line learning. When you sign up, you are committing to the class time and assignments (which is good). You can register for classes offered by many leading USA and UK universities including Harvard, Stanford and Yale.

What are the course options?

The choices are vast. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a leader in this field. It is “dedicated to advancing knowledge and educating students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.”

They have courses that will teach you how to manage and harness the dynamics and interactions between firms and other entities within a supply chain. They also have courses like Drugs and the Brain and Introduction to Algorithms.

There’s a course coming up at the University of West Virginia called The Science of How Communication Technology Shapes Our Social Lives. Presumably this will be suited to more mature students who are bemused by the growth in the use of hand-held devices and mobile technology.   

Some courses are on not on a fixed schedule but are self-paced, and more suitable to those of us with challenging day jobs. Social Media Marketing for International Business from the University of Salford’s Business School is one of those that you can fit in with other extra-murals. 

It’s not all about work

If that all sounds a little heavy, how about a Jazz Appreciation Course from the University of Texas? You can listen and learn about the artists, eras, and musical methods that make jazz a great original art form. Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker. John Coltrane. You’ve heard their names, but do you know what makes them great? It doesn’t even sound like work!

You can try Lynda.com for video-based courses on Photoshop or Lightroom, which cost a small fee. These are great skills to have for improving the visuals in your slide presentations and management reports. How about learning something that will let you have a serious conversation with your I.T manager without feeling inadequate? The Khan Academy is a well-established not for profit organisation that provides free courses on many subjects.

If you want to try something that is directly related to improving your skills on the job, how about: Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel or Career Edge: Communication and Teamwork. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something!

Why It’s Critical to Keep Your Skills Up to Date

Technological change is disrupting every industry and profession around the world, and obliging professionals to ensure their skills are up to date.

Keep your skills up to date

In recent weeks, Procurious has published a number of articles on personal development, training and up-skilling. The idea of keeping skills up to to date, and making time for learning and development, are applicable not only in procurement, but also to virtually every profession in every country.

However, this is not to say that all the onus is on the individuals to take responsibility for their development. It’s important also for organisations to ensure that resources are made available to allow employees the opportunity to take advantage of the training that is available.

AT&T – Remaining Competitive

AT&T is a US-based telecommunications company, currently owned and operated by SBC Communications. In the USA, the company is the second largest provider of mobile phone services, and the largest provider of fixed phone services. The company also provides broadband services.

The rapid pace of technological change in the telecommunications industry has left AT&T vying to remain competitive against larger technology organisations, such as Google and Amazon. Part of the strategy for remaining competitive in this industry is ensuring that employees’ skills are up to date.

It was estimated that approximately 280,000 employees need to update, or learn, coding skills, something that the organisation is supporting through the provision of eLearning. The company will reimburse around $8,000 (USD) per year per employee for this training, although this will still mean employees are funding some of the training themselves.

Up-skill. Or else…

While this may sound like the organisation is being supportive of employees’ efforts to ensure they have the skills they require to perform their job, there is something of a darker undertone. In essence, AT&T are forcing their employees to learn these skills, or find that their career choices are “very limited”.

CEO, Randall Stephenson, has been quoted as saying people who do not spend 5 to 10 hours per week in online learning will “obsolete themselves with the technology”. The time commitment involved means that many employees are now working evenings and weekends, on top of their day jobs, just to keep up to date.

The company also plans, eventually, to include personal development and learning as part of performance reviews too. This will be based on what people have studied, how well they did, and whether they are willing to keep learning.

The Right Reasons

It would be easy to point the finger at AT&T and say that they are being unfair. That they shouldn’t be forcing employees to learn skills, or essentially be out of a job. However, there are many organisations who do not offer the support that AT&T are giving their employees.

Yes, employees own time and money are required in order to keep pace, but if these employees don’t have the same skills as those at competitor organisations, then the chances are good that AT&T will cease to exist, and those employees will be looking for new jobs in an ultra-competitive job market.

It is also not to say that AT&T are leaving their employees to fend for themselves. The company has a programme called “Vision 2020”. It combines online and classroom-based work in subjects like digital networking and data science, but also looks at old skills that can be transferred to new careers.

AT&T management want to ensure that the company has a future, and the employees have got on board with this, and are actively working to make sure that they have the necessary skills to do so.

Stay ahead of the personal development game by making use of all the eLearning resources at your disposal. Check out the Learning Hub on Procurious for over 80 free video and audio resources, from learning about procurement, to learning from the experts.