Upgrade Your Skill Set

By Team Digit Published Date
01 - Feb - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Feb - 2005
Upgrade Your Skill Set
If you are an employer, you need soft skills. If you are an employee, you need soft skills too. In fact, whoever you are, at whatever level in your organisation, it's your soft skills that consistently matter-an area of development you are most likely to ignore.

At http://snipurl.com/digit_ skills1 is a 'Soft Skills Quiz' that tests your soft skills quotient. The page lists the 25 "Most frequently cited soft skills". Some of these include oral / spoken communication skills, honesty, team work or collaboration skills, self-motivation/initiative, leadership skills, 'Working under pressure', creativity, and time management skills.

According to job portal monster.com, employers consistently look for soft skills. You may not have several of these traits and skills, but you can easily and actively pursue developing these skills online. Of course, it's probably not possible to take a course on, say, 'honesty' but there are several areas where you and members of your organisation can actively improve.

From certmag.com, here's an 'Unofficial list of soft skills for techies'-
  • Team work
  • Communication skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Selling
  • Running meetings
  • Leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Customer service
Let's look at some Web sites that can help you and your employees develop these essential soft skills.

Brownbag Training
Brown Bag Training is an e-learning site that delivers classes online. Classes are presented live by an instructor. There are a variety of soft skill classes to choose from and a variety of "Class Packs" are available. A 20-pack costs $1,049 (Rs 49,000). But you could choose a single class for $59 (Rs 2,700). They offer a satisfaction promise- if you are not satisfied with the class or classes you receive, you get all your money back.

Using the Brown Bag development process, they will custom-develop a class or series of classes for your team or tailor their existing classes to address a specific market, skill or customer base.

A typical class is completed in about 45 minutes and all students receive an electronic certificate of completion. Visit http:// snipurl.com/digit_skills2 for more details about the classes offered. Some examples are "Customer Service 101", "Eight tips for writing quality e-mail", "Dealing with difficult customers" and so on.

You Achieve
At YouAchieve.com, you will find a variety of learning resources- workshops, clinics, articles, 'knowledge nuggets', intensive programs and 'PowerBytes' (small tidbits of key information you can access for free). All content is delivered via the Internet.

Three types of full-access subscriptions ranging from a month, three months to one year are available. Each gives you access to the entire course catalogue for the chosen duration. A one-month subscription is only $46 (Rs 2,070).

The 'Intensive Programmes' include material on leadership skills, personal career development and personal management skills amongst others. The workshops offered include interaction skills, oral communication, corporate leadership, personal development and other essential skills. The clinics are short (20-minute) 'courses'.

Silicon Beach Training
This site has a compilation of many free e-learning resources that are available. Here, you will find links to books that you can purchase, links to forums, articles, tips and tricks and much more. The topics are arranged alphabetically from 'assertiveness skills' to 'communication skills' to 'time management'.

The Switchover
Site Delivery Method Pros Cons 
Brown Bag Training Online Clean Interface, Live Instructor None 
YouAchieve.com Online Huge number of courses available; articles and 'nuggets' in addition to courses; affordable None 
Silicon Beach Training HTML Pages Free; large number of links No formal training option for non-UK customers; you only get to use the free links 
Get Ahead Direct CD-ROMs; eBooks Very affordable eBook option Limited number of titles 
NAM Virtual University Online Reasonably Affordable Somewhat limited selection of soft skills courses 
CRM Learning VHS or DVD High-quality products Expensive 

Get Ahead Direct
www. getahead-direct.com
GetAhead offers CD-ROMs and eBooks as training material. While an eBook is for $8.95 (Rs 403), a multimedia CD-ROM costs $39.95 (Rs 1,798). There are ten titles available in all for $199 (Rs 8,955) for all the CD-ROMs.

Each GetAhead training course (eBook or CD-Rom) is a comprehensive and self-contained course that will give you a 'lifelong career skill'. Each course is designed by experts to include interactive exercises, case studies and questions.

The 10 titles available are Business Negotiations, Time Management, Business Presentations, Winning at Interviews, Business Meetings, Organising Projects, Planning Projects, Controlling Projects, Business Analysis and Data Analysis. Some of these may be classified as soft skills, some not quite.

GetAhead also has an impressive customer list, which includes the likes of Sun Microsystems, Sony, IBM, AT&T, Kodak and Compaq among others.

NAM Virtual University
The catalogue at NAM Virtual University includes soft skills training as well as training in other departments such as Information Technology. The soft skills part of the catalogue includes courses relating to customer service, personal development and professional development.

For instance under 'Personal Development', there are courses in 'Managing Stress', 'Recognising and Managing Anger', 'Recognising and Avoiding Burnout', 'Time Management' and more. Each course is  priced at $9.95 (Rs 448).

Courses typically take an hour to complete. All courses are delivered over the Internet. To use this, you need to register and enrol for a course and it will be delivered to you when you want it.

The flipside to such an arrangement is that the lessons are pre-recorded and there is no live instructor.

CRM Learning
CRM Learning allows you to take an online preview of some of its courses before deciding if they will be right for you. The method of delivery is either VHS or DVD.

As with the other sites mentioned so far, the soft skills offered there are communication skills, customer service, ethics, leadership, and so on.

CRM Learning offers a 'Purchase' option and it's a good thing it let's you preview! Typically, the purchase of the titles costs $795 (Rs 37,500) whereas 'rental' costs $275 (Rs 13,000).

This means that you can order the tapes or disks and present them to your entire team at your convenience. However, the 'rental' option may not be available to Indian customers due to shipping issues.

Titles in the soft-skills department include 'The power of listening', 'Communicating non- defensively', 'Attitude is Everything', 'Really Angry Customers' and others.


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