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Education in a tough and scary economy

By Delia Vuletici

Is your company thinking about cutting back on its employee trainingand education? Although often considered to be discretionary spending,what you don’t spend now to train and upgrade your people may come backto plague you when the economy recovers.

When the “R” word gets thrown around, those of us in our twenties tend to get just a bit worried. Will I lose my job? How will I pay off my debt? How is this going to affect me?  For those in their thirties, the worry goes a little deeper. Will I lose my house? How much less do we put into savings? Where do I cut spending?  And those in their 40’s and 50’s really begin to worry about their debt-to-equity, children’s education and their retirement funds. And while worry is the by product of any recession let alone a global recession – it is imperative to remember what it’s still important to do during these inevitable economic times.

While it may seem logical and tempting to cut costs in areas such as training and development for your employees, this is actually one of the best times to invest in your employees. Amplify your competitive advantage by offering internal training. Oftentimes, when there’s less work on the go it’s the best time to advance your employees’ skills. Give them the skills they need. Take the opportunity to catch them up on the latest developments in employee empowerment, customer service, and supervisory training. When their workload increases once again, you will have more educated, knowledgeable and productive employees.

Additionally, employees are more stressed in slower economic times because of anxiety about their jobs (downsizing), rapid rise in living costs (food, gas, utilities) and their investments. One of the most important areas an employer can reassure their employees they care is by sending them for training. Training can be done locally, over even in-house.

For the individual professional, this is also the time to advance your skills. Now is the time to take those extra courses you were meaning to take but didn’t have the time. The prices have dropped, or the online option is almost always available. So, take the time to keep up with updating your education and your soft skills. Logically, there is no better time to invest in your education than when the economy slows down.

With so many training and development seminars, webinars, workshops, online options and management solutions available today, make sure you research and pick a reputable training organization that cares about your needs the same way they care about their bottom line. For instance, look for an organization that has been in the industry for over 10 years and has adapted to all the changes in adult education.

Delia Vuletici is with the Waterloo Management Education Centre. You can contact her at, or visit

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