BUSINESS BEAT BY FAUS JOHNSON
Knowledge is empowerment and as we move from a manufacturing base to a service based economy there are skillsets that are not only necessary but essential in order for business survival. For the baby boom generation born before the invention of the personal computer this can be a challenge, as those who were not required to have technical skills in their occupation or were in a position to have someone who provided those skillsets for them will be disadvantaged.
With the aging population and retirement not being the choice of many Boomers, there is a need to educate people in small to medium sizes businesses on the attributes of technology and how to use it. I recently sat down with Chris Lewis of Chris Lewis Business Solutions to discuss his company’s approach to this business opportunity.
Chris has been in the training business for over 20 years and is passionate about the need for small businesses to continually upgrade the skills of the owners and their employees. His company spends about 90 per cent of its resources on training and 10 per cent on consulting. Lewis says large corporations are on board with education and most are realizing the need for a work/life balance. It is the small to medium size businesses that may not have the financial resources or internal expertise to provide this knowledge. At some point it becomes the responsibility of the individual employees to stay relevant so they can be gamefully employed in the new economy. The Department of Labour and Advanced Education assists by offering a program called Workplace Education. Its mandate is to increase the skillsets of businesses and organizations in all sectors. These customized programs are designed for employed people with various degrees of knowledge in order to accommodate a cross section of businesses and skillset. These 40-hour courses are customized to the workplace and the participants.
We also discussed the emerging social media networks and their value as an advertising medium. Local businesses need to understand the importance of change and that government can no longer be relied upon to prop them up financially. The government can however provide tools like education to make businesses more self-sufficient and give them the management skills necessary to succeed.
The Ivany Report which was commissioned by the previous government to make suggestions on the future of the Nova Scotia economy makes it quite clear that if rural Nova Scotia is to reverse its current decline it needs to pull itself up by its own boot straps. It is well known that the greatest key to success is to provide a good education for our students and the same applies to the small and medium business sector when it comes to the continuous upgrading of workplace skills. We are gifted with some of the best universities and community colleges in the country but it is not uncommon that graduates may not be well versed in the technical aspects of the workplace which are required today. This has given rise to the “Knowledge Industry” in which entrepreneurs like Lewis can provide this service to the small and medium-sized business sector.
Faus Johnson is a graduate of Dalhousie University and the University Of Western Ontario Ivey School Of Business.