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Overcoming Challenges and Roadblocks to Upskilling in the Trades Sector

You’re in the trades sector and want to grow your business. You’ve seen dozens, if not hundreds, of people do it with what looked like ease. Great! We’re with you. Everyone needs to do it; we all should be trying to grow our businesses because in the ever-evolving landscape of the trades sector, there is no such thing as standing still. With more and more competitors coming into the market every year, you’re either moving forwards and growing, or going backwards and will soon be back employed. I know it sounds harsh, but let’s not skip over the difficult conversations. It’s your business and you need to always be earning.

But and this is the big ‘but’, it’s not as easy as it looks; not as easy as others make it look, and the only way to grow, the only way to make a bigger and better business, is to upskill yourself and bring more useful things to your business. Both in how you run your business and what you do on each project.

It’s not a choice for any type of business in the trades sector.

As a business within the trade sector, you need to realise that upskilling is not just a choice but a necessity for staying relevant and competitive. It’s the thing that those hundreds of successful trades sector businesses you’ve seen, do behind the scenes. It’s the hard work that they’ve put in before getting to that point at which you’ve seen them.

Upskilling has so many benefits it’s hard to list, but despite those benefits being so clear, tradespeople often encounter various challenges and roadblocks along the way, often put up by themselves. Let’s explore some of these obstacles and discuss strategies for overcoming them, to foster continuous growth and development within the trades sector.

Resistance to Change

One of the primary challenges trades sector-based businesses face when it comes to upskilling is financial constraints. I know most people may think this is the most common challenge, but honestly, it’s not. The most common challenge that is unique to the trades sector is ‘stubbornness’ or, as I’m going to call it for more professional reasons, a resistance to change.

Resistance to change, to embrace new technologies, techniques, or practices for some is really hard. Everyone is different; it could be a fear of change, a fear of the unknown, an issue around ego thinking they’re always right and what they do now is right, or maybe it’s just a preference for sticking to familiar methods that they are comfortable with.

Whatever it is, tradespeople need to combat their resistance to change. You need to upskill yourself; you need to put in the hours that those you see as successful have put in. Remember you’re either going forwards or backwards. An unwillingness to change is a backwards step.

Financial Constraints

Now onto the financial constraints of upskilling, which I mentioned above as the second biggest challenge we find trades sector businesses tend to use as an excuse.

Many training programmes, workshops, and certifications come with a price tag; that’s just the way of business. We all need to charge to make money, which we can use to invest in making our products better. You charge a client, and then use part of that money on a course to upskill yourself so you can provide an even better or different service next time. We then use that money that you spent on a course to upskill ourselves to bring more courses for you. And so on… But thinking about the cost of the course as simply money you had to spend is always a one-directional thought process.

Instead, consider it as an investment and the price tag as motivation. If you bought a car for £600 and a car for £6000, which one would you take better care of? Which one would you want to drive? Which one would you want to show off? And it’s the same for everything.

If we didn’t charge for a course, then you would not see the value in what you’ve learnt and most likely not do anything with it. YouTube is a prime example of this, because you could, with a lot of piecing together, get everything you need from YouTube, but there is no investment, which means no pressure to use that information to make your money back. You don’t see value. But by applying a price, by paying for a course, you’re already partly incentivised to make it work because you want the money you invested back. The higher the price, the quicker and harder you’re going to incorporate what you’ve learnt and make it work.

Time Constraints

Another significant roadblock to upskilling in the trades sector is time constraints. Balancing work commitments, family responsibilities, and personal obligations can leave little room for attending training sessions or dedicating time to acquiring new skills. We previously saw this as a big stumbling block for those wanting to attend course, but as we’ve had the opportunity to duplicate the same course across different week and weekend attendance patterns, we tend not to see too much of the same problem. But, in general, in any sector, often taking a course is considered time out of the business, time away from earning money and doing what you should be doing. Hopefully, though, from what we’ve mentioned before, you can see that upskilling yourself is time invested in your business. Every time you take a course or spend time learning, you’re earning future money.

On the flip side, for those who do find it hard to make time because they are fully booked, it comes down more to time management, prioritisation and getting those courses in before you hit a feast and famine situation. Set aside dedicated time for learning and development, whether it’s scheduling regular training sessions or allocating specific hours each week for skill-building activities, can help create consistency and structure.

Upskilling should be a habit, not a roadblock.

Continuous learning is a must

In the dynamic world of the trades sector, continuous upskilling is not just an option but a necessity for staying competitive. While financial constraints and time management may seem like formidable roadblocks, they can be overcome by reframing them as investments and opportunities for growth. Resistance to change often stems from fear or a preference for familiar methods, but embracing new technologies and practices is essential for progress. By viewing upskilling as a habit rather than a hindrance, tradespeople such as yourself can ensure their businesses thrive in an ever-evolving landscape, driving success through ongoing learning and development.


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