Academy Xi Blog

Why the traditional corporate training model is broken (and three powerful fixes)

By Academy Xi

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It is well documented that investing in quality corporate training solutions can offer numerous benefits to organisations. Many offerings promise to support closing the digital skills gap, increasing staff retention, and boosting innovation and overall productivity. Unfortunately, the reality of many corporate training models is that while the participants might be ‘achieving’ new skills, often these new learnings aren’t translating into solid outcomes back at headquarters.

What’s the reason behind this disconnect?

At Academy Xi, we believe that the value of corporate training exists in the practical application of skills within the learning environment. Often, corporate training events offer single-dimensional products which focus on skills achievement, as opposed to the application of them while learning. While achievement might look good on paper, hands-on based training is what will result in a true return on investment and deliver the real-life outcomes needed for individuals and consequently organisations to thrive.

How to ensure the learning is integrated into your workplace post training? We have established three powerful fixes.

#1 Measure what matters

When it comes to learning and development, it is commonplace that senior management want to understand the following metrics:
  • Training cost per employee
  • Completion rates
  • Return on investment (ROI)
CEO’s want to know that the training is in alignment with organisational needs and supports the overall business strategy. However, when it comes to ROI, research shows that a large portion of organisations don’t evaluate the true outcomes of corporate training programs and therefore don’t gain an accurate insight, if any at all. This is often due to the evaluation not being prioritised – it consumes more time and resources that are already scarce within the business, yet it can ultimately result in wasted time and training budget. If you want to drive meaningful impact in training your workforce, it’s essential to be measuring and evaluating continually, with hard business metrics such as quantitative business-performance indicators, to honestly understand what is needed to elevate organisational performance. Which workforce trends do you need to engage to drive your organisation’s competitive edge and therefore what style and content of training will support this? The more detail you can gain from evaluating training outcomes, the clearer you will be on what is helping to deliver organisational success, or not. At Academy Xi, we focus on metrics that matter. We help your organisation to identify skills gaps and then tailor and design engaging, practical, hands-on training that truly aligns with critical business priorities.

Traditional training metrics (like ease of access to content and course completion rates) were meant to remove hurdles for employees. These should now be seen as table stakes.

Linda Cai. Vice President of Talent Development, LinkedIn

#2 Never go full generic

Sourcing quality hands-on training for teams will empower your people to be proactively engaged, which increases the level of information being retained. Individuals who get to apply their learning as they go within a setting that is closely designed to their workplace scenarios, will walk away with more confidence in their ability to apply their new knowledge meaningfully when they return to the work environment. Recent research revealed that people going into tech roles who invested in ‘traditional’ training approaches were less productive than those who participated in hands-on training in internship roles. In-training skills application also provides opportunities for learners to get immediate support and feedback from the industry experts leading the learning – which further aids the anchoring of new concepts. Ensuring that the training you invest in is run by industry practitioners is important, so you can be assured that you’re receiving proven practices, frameworks, and toolkits. Experiential training is by far the most effective approach to learning and development. Whichever training provider you select, do your research to discover as much as possible about their training approach so you can reap the benefits of hands-on learning for your workforce. Actively investing in employees with relevant training that boosts their digital skills is also vital in the current recruitment climate. Ensuring teams receive practical learning experiences will assist with retention of your staff.

#3 Application over achievement

Off the shelf training courses are all about skills achievement. While this might initially seem to be what your workforce needs, think again. If a learning experience is presented within a real-world context, you are setting your people up for success.

What is a real-world context?

Ultimately, ‘real world context’ is when training is created so that learners can carry out tasks and activities in a way that represents problem solving in their real world. Students are encouraged and supported to connect new learning within a frame of reference that reflects their workplace.

If content is king, then context is god!

Gary Vaynerchuk, Entrepreneur and CEO of VaynerMedia

While this quote originated from a marketing angle, it also carries weight when viewed through the training lens. If learners are actively participating in a training context that is very similar to the environment they need to apply it to in the real world the outcome of their performance, or application of the new learning, will be exponentially better.

If you want your workforce to do new things, give them an environment to learn and practice the new thing.

We worked closely with the Academy Xi team as our strategic design partner to co-design a customer-centric ‘Way Of Working’ framework, set of supporting capabilities and a guidebook containing tools and templates. Academy Xi contributed hugely to our program’s success

Carmelina Senese, Director of Customer Experience, EDConnect, Department of Education

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The bottom line

Skills application based training is the most effective learning and development approach organisations can invest in for genuine return on investment. By engaging with a training provider who focuses on metrics that matter to design learning experiences that reflect what your organisation truly needs to thrive, you will ensure your L&D budget does not go to waste.

Ready to transform your workforce from within?

Get in touch with the team at Academy Xi to discuss how we can support your workforce by designing bespoke training solutions that will meaningfully engage your people and impact your business bottom line. We can transform your workforce through the delivery of highly contextualised programs to suit individuals, teams, and organisational needs, all guided by world class experts.

Academy Xi – trusted to help solve critical organisational challenges

Academy Xi Blog

The fireside chat transcripts: I’m a UX Designer–Ask Me Anything!

By Academy Xi

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Here’s the transcript of the latest Q&A in Academy Xi’s Fireside Chat series. We met with Senior UX UI Designer Sylvia Xu Connor and discussed what it’s like being a UX designer, the current UX industry landscape, the UX interview process, and much, much more.

We also got the chance to answer some of our audience’s burning questions and trust us, whether you’re a seasoned UX Designer or an upcoming junior in the design world, Sylvia delivers the goods, and we had a blast! Enjoy!

Academy Xi (event host):  Our guest today took the human-centred and digital design route after 15 years in the fashion industry. She graduated from our UX UI Design Transform course last year and is now helping to deliver cloud communications as a senior UX UI designer at Symbio. In addition to her striking portfolio, she also serves as a speaker and mentor to our emerging designers here at Academy Xi, and recently hired two of our UX design grads to work with her! Please welcome Sylvia Xu Connor. 

Sylvia: Hi, everybody! 

Academy Xi: To start, can you introduce yourself and take us through the journey that led you to UX and UI Design?

Sylvia: I’ve been a [fashion] designer for many, many years. I have a Bachelor of Design from UTS, but realised that UX UI is such an end-to-end process. Even though it was a relatively new term to me at that stage in my career, I realised that everybody goes through UX UI to some degree, whether you start as a designer and have that massive design background or you don’t. 

Because UX is about problem solving and as you get older there are many, many situations –  I’m sure everybody will relate to this –  that you would need to solve a problem, and how you would solve that problem is the UX process. And UI I suppose, comes hand in hand with how you appreciate visual hierarchy and things like that so there’s a lot of graphic designers who also transition into UI. It’s a very natural progression, I did a lot of graphic design work as well in my design career. So to me, UX UI is something that’s always been within me, in my spirit, but never solidly considered until recently.

Academy Xi: What was your motivation going into this industry? 

Sylvia: It’s lovely for me at this stage of my life because I’ve got two young kids and you get a little bit of freedom back when you’re not on the road, going into a physical studio. 

UX work can be done anywhere in the world, because it’s all about problem solving and if you are online, you can solve a problem. 

Sylvia Xu Connor

Academy Xi:  We have a lot of potential students here, and some people who are interested in breaking into the industry. You finished the UX UI design course with us last year. Can you take us through what skills or major takeaways you got from this course?

Sylvia: I think what’s important about the course is that it gives you a really good overview from start to finish of what the whole design process looks like. Many people will come in and reaffirm what they already know. Deep down it’s a venue for them to solidify the idea in their head that they already know what they could do to solve a problem, and then apply that in an end-to-end design process. 

You can learn some fresh skills, such as collaborating in a team. A lot of people are really collaborating in teams, whether you are in the design team, or you have been working at a hospital. The course lets you finish a project from end-to-end, so you can have a really good understanding and overview of the design process.

Academy Xi: You mentioned end-to-end projects. Can you tell us a little bit about the projects that you’ve worked on? I hear that you’ve worked with some clients as well during your time with Academy Xi. Can you talk more about that?

Sylvia:  Yeah, I was given this wonderful opportunity whereby we worked with EndeavourX who were such a wonderful team of people and really great with feedback. We were given the opportunity to look at their career site, suggest some changes and make improvements. We were able to survey the people looking to move into tech that fit within the client’s age range. It was really good, because we had a problem to solve and we took a step back and looked at how we could solve that problem by getting validation from the target audience.  So that was one of the projects. 

The other project was also with EndeavourX. We were tasked with looking at their current chatbot and how to make it more engaging. 

Both these projects were just fantastic and helped me springboard into my current career. Even though I came from a design background, with these client projects you could just show what you can do very, very quickly, in a short amount of time - it’s something concrete.

Sylvia Xu Connor

Academy Xi:  Absolutely – it’s so important to build a portfolio especially at the beginning of your career. How long did it actually take you to finish your course and then land that job at Symbio?

Sylvia: It was funny because I started the course during the Sydney lockdown. It was just timing, you know? Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time. I didn’t want to commute into the city every single day, which came with my old design job. 

Serendipity wise, I started the course and I did the Transform course which is three months. It was hectic. It was hard work. I expected it to be hard, and it was hard. So the expectation was there versus the reality and I got everything I needed out of it. 

I put in the hard yards and learnt new software. Let’s be open minded about software because they are tools. And what a great way to be introduced to tools if you haven’t been using a lot of software, right?

From start to finish, [the course took] three months and I started looking to apply with different companies and I got a couple of job offers pretty much as soon as I finished. Within a week, I had a couple of concrete choices to deep dive into and make a good decision about where I wanted to go. 

Academy Xi: How about some of your colleagues who were in the class with you? How are they doing? 

Sylvia: I’m still really good friends with all of them. There were six of us who finished the transform course and from start to finish, we’re just such good mates. I think that the key ingredient to having a good design team is to actually really value and trust each other. 

Everyone’s going to be good at different things, and so it’s really important to build that relationship whereby you trust that the other person is going to do their job. Obviously, there’s  a healthy amount of discussion. They’re all doing really well, I believe most of them have landed jobs. 

Academy Xi: Lots of prospective students ask us “How do I pivot or transition into a career, such as UX UI design, if I don’t come from a design background? What skills or mindset do I need to have as a junior UX designer?”.

Sylvia: That’s a very common question and I think something that could potentially put a lot of people off transitioning into a design career. UX Design is primarily about problem solving and about validation and, as I mentioned earlier, anyone could have those skills. From the day you’re born, you’re problem solving. Believe it or not, even though you might not think you’re a good problem solver, you really are! 

You’ve got lots of problems and you have to find different routes into thinking – “how am I going to solve this problem?”. Normally it’s by trial and error. 

So trial and error would be your testing. You trial something to see if the idea that you’ve got to solve a problem works. And you should be able to get validation very quickly, if you test it with the right people. 

So having a problem-solving mindset is the best thing you can do as an aspiring UX Designer.

Sylvia Xu Connor

Academy Xi: So it’s about having that open mindset and always being empathetic? 

Sylvia: Empathy is so important. There’s not going to be many UX designers who are not empathetic because it’s so fundamental to being a good UX designer. 

If you are an empathetic person, you’re going to look at a product and say “what are the pain points that are currently in this product?”. 

You’re going to ask the people who are using a product and really try to understand where they’re coming from. As soon as you understand that there is a problem to solve and you really try and get into the mindset of what it is that they’re struggling with, then you’re going to be able to offer a better solution.

Academy Xi:  That’s right – it’s all about putting yourself in the user’s shoes. Let’s shift gears a little bit – what’s happening in the Australian market right now in terms of UX? Can you paint us a picture of the big and small challenges of the industry?

Sylvia: I think we’re probably not as mature as overseas in terms of the understanding of what UX can bring to the table. I know that UX arrived early in the States and in Europe. And a lot of companies in Australia because of COVID they’ve been pushed into thinking more about “how do I get my product that already exists into the digital world and then into the hands of people who are always on their phones, their laptops, their tablets?”. 

I think in that way, the challenge would be really about educating businesses to know the value of UX and what UX can bring to the table.

Sylvia Xu Connor

Academy Xi: And how does that relate to the number of jobs that are out there in the market for UX designers? 

I think there’s going to be a snowball effect. The more UX designers get into the job market, the more that they will be able to stay at the top of the hill.  They’ll add value to a business and that business will show another business that, “Oh hey, I’ve got ‘UX’ on my side and we’re growing really well and very healthily”. More companies will be inspired to hire UX UI designers. In that way, I believe it will have a snowball effect. 

To answer your first question on how and what the job prospects are, they’re good. It’s certainly better than it was even 12 months ago, but the challenge is still there because businesses don’t know what they don’t know. If they don’t know anything about UX, then they don’t think they need UX. It would be like a constant education piece.

Academy Xi: We often have people ask us what’s a typical day in the life of a UX designer. Can you give us an example of your work day from start to finish?

Sylvia : Oh gosh! Lots and lots of meetings, because you’re always collaborating, and not just with other UX designers. If you’re lucky enough to work in a design team then you would collaborate a lot with other designers that specialise in different stages of the UX UI cycle. 

But if you are not as lucky to work in a design team and you are a one-man band, you’re doing end-to-end design work–that’s also good because you get to experience the whole lot. But it doesn’t mean you’re not collaborating. You’ll be collaborating with your product manager, product owner, the back-end engineers, front-end engineers. 

There’s a lot of collaboration. UX is not in its own bubble.

Sylvia Xu Connor

Academy Xi: For sure – it’s all about collaborating and making sure that everything works together, because then you’re balancing user needs with business needs and seeing what’s feasible, right? 

Sylvia: And what is possible with technology – can you build what you and the business want to build for the client? If you imagine the venn diagram, you’d be sitting in the middle as a UX designer –  designing a product that the business needs, the user wants, and what is possible technology-wise to deliver.

Below are questions from our audience ranging from career, salary, software, skills, and more. 

Audience question: I am considering a career change, at 38 years old. I am currently a learning designer, writing assessments and curriculum for Universities. I am a photographer, so I seek creative jobs. What advice would you give me to calm the fears I have about starting anew with really no background/ experience, but hopefully some transferable skills? My plan is to start the Transform course with Academy Xi and I’m just doing some research to build my confidence. I’m also studying a short course in Figma but I’m nervous.

Sylvia: Hi there! I think that’s a valid question and certainly it warrants the amount of research that you have already been doing, because research is your best friend. I think you definitely have a lot of transferable skills. Don’t forget a lot of UX skills are actually soft skills. You seem like you have a lot of those. 

As a learning designer you need to talk to the people that you are designing the learning material for, so you already have the right background, believe it or not.

And then also you’re upskilling in Figma and any software that certainly helps because if you are going to be into design, you need to obviously solve a problem. But how you show the solution would be down to how well you’ve grasped the tools, so I think it’s definitely a really good move to try and upskill in Figma and any other software, because when you use one software, you’re more adaptable to using any other software that comes along. 

Audience question: What could I develop further which is not covered in the Academy Xi course, which could help for transitioning from a student to UX UI designer?

Sylvia: So I think a lot of the time, it’s very valuable to be able to grasp the tools, because that is something very concrete and you can demonstrate your capabilities straight away. For example, your portfolio is going to look amazing. And also, you might be given a design challenge when you first go into a lot of job interviews. If you grasp the tools really well, that would definitely be an advantage.

[Academy Xi: What tools specifically?]

Sylvia: Figma, definitely. Miro would be another one that is used industry-wide. Figjam and Miro are whiteboarding tools. They would be the ones that I’d be looking for specifically and then the other added bonus would be Adobe Creative suite. A lot of graphic designers are whizzes in Adobe Creative Suite. I am because I come from that sort of background, but I think it just really helps top-up your software skills. It’s not the be-all and end-all, but if you’re looking for something extra that would be what I would look at.

Audience question: Is it reasonable to expect resistance to human-centred design as opposed to business or process centred?  Also, given the niche market of UX right now, is it expected that you will do everything with the end-to-end process including UI?

Sylvia: I think it depends on the business and how mature the UX function is. While you’re studying it is probably really important to look at UX UI as a holistic design process, whereby you should try to do it all. And then I think, as you mature as a designer you’re probably going to realise and really understand yourself a little bit better what you excel in and then focus on that.

It’s really, really important that you understand that you can’t do everything, and that you really need to try and get knowledge from other experts that might have better insights.  For example, if you are a UX-heavy designer, you are really great at research and problem solving and not so good at tools, try and really feed off your colleagues who might be better at tools and don’t think “I can do it all”, because maybe someone else has got better ideas than you.

[Academy Xi: Absolutely, it is all about teamwork.]

Audience question: Do you have any advice/tips for what to include in a portfolio and also what to avoid putting into a portfolio?

Sylvia: I think it depends on what it is that you’re looking for. So if you are thinking you are going to go heavy on UX because that’s what you really want to do as opposed to UI, then you really need to show your thinking process in your portfolio. It might not be as pretty or polished as a UI portfolio but it doesn’t certainly doesn’t stop you from making your portfolio, top to tail, design process plus extremely polished-looking, look good. 

You really need to understand what your strengths are and how you want to sell yourself in this end-to-end process, so, as I said, if you think that you are going to be quite a UX-focused designer, and this is the type of roles that you want to go for, really show how you approach a problem and show all the data or the insights that you get from looking at a problem and then try to show that in your portfolio. 

Audience question: How many case studies do you recommend to have in my portfolio as a beginner who is looking for a job in the UX industry?

Sylvia: Probably no more than six. Mainly because a lot of hiring managers are really busy, and they’re looking at a lot of portfolios. As well as reading CVs as well as doing their jobs. So I would say, quality over quantity for sure. 

Audience question: How much did your website and case studies help you land your current role?

Sylvia: That’s a good question! I don’t know because I didn’t hire myself (laughs), but what I think happened was that I certainly had what I thought was going to get me an interview, and I think it’s only a springboard to how well you’re going to do in an interview. The portfolio is not your be all and end all, because you would still need to do well in the interviews. And it’s during the interviews you need to get across how well you can explain your design process and what you could bring to the business.

Audience question: I see a number of people on LinkedIn saying that they have been looking for jobs for months and starting to get deflated. What do you think could be the reason? Is there anything as a soon-to-be UX designer that I could do to avoid this long wait for my first gig?

Sylvia: I would say, keep at it, but maybe try something different so don’t keep doing the same thing. In the way that you know if you never refresh your portfolio, then perhaps if it’s not going to get you noticed six months ago, it’s not going to get you noticed now, so try different things and see if any of them stick. 

Keep doing the projects, I know that there is some volunteer work around UX in Australia and I think from what I hear these volunteer work can help you basically bump up your skills.

While you’re looking for a job, I know it sometimes can be really difficult to work for free, but I think as a designer who’s been working for many years, I have done my fair share of free work as well, because I know that, eventually, it would lead to something but also look at it as a way to practice your skills and perhaps once you get hired, it would all be worth it. 

Audience question: The full-time course recommends 25-30 hours per week. You mentioned the more you put into it, the better the outcomes. Would you recommend allocating more time than that recommendation to get the most out of the course? If so, how much more? I am balancing part-time study and work.

Sylvia: That’s like seven hours a day which is a full day of office work. I would say, I did more than that. Yeah so serendipity, as I said. What happened was it was during the entire Sydney lockdown, I really had nothing else to do except to just be in my house and do my projects. 

So I suppose, maybe, it’s not fair to compare but I also have young kids and personal responsibilities but I am also very goal-orientated. So I knew that if I just put in the hard work now, three months down the end is what makes it all worth it. 

So I would probably say it’s fair to say that I stopped my life for about three months, and I just went really hard in the course. Any skill that you pick up is good, it’s going to be beneficial to you.

Having said that it’s not required, you know, like it’s not something that someone is going to look over your shoulder and say you haven’t put in enough work, but I think the quality of work speaks for itself after the course, because whatever it is that you put in your portfolio or or at the interview process, you might just be able to explain your process a little bit better–if you actually might be a fit or like, went above and beyond, during the course.

Audience question: I’m 24 years old, wanting to change my career from medicine/sports science to UX UI Design, so I essentially have limited experience. My greatest concern is getting a job after completing a UX UI Transform course as someone with less experience in design. What are the key skills (both technical and soft) that you think employers search for?

Sylvia: Great question. The junior designer that I’ve got on board comes from a podiatry background. 

I would say he’s brilliant at his job because from day to day, while being a podiatrist, he was diagnosing problems, you know, he was talking to people about how they were feeling. What hurts, what we could do to make it better, those are kind of all the things that you do as a UX designer anyway! So obviously having the people skills really helps.

It just gives you that extra level of being able to ask someone openly about what are the pain points, for example. Do not be discouraged, because you definitely have something to bring to the table.

Also, work on Figma! Because it’s tangible. You can look online and look on YouTube and learn, it’s something that you can actually do. Whereas you know if I say to someone who’s perhaps not the biggest extrovert, improve your people skills–it’s harder to grasp how that could help (or how to even do that). But anyone can learn to work on software.

Audience question: What job titles are you able to apply for as soon as you finish a UX course and what’s the range of pay for beginners? I would also like to ask about the range of pay from beginner to a seasoned UX design and how fast or slow is the progression.

Sylvia: I think it’s not a one-size-fits-all question and it’s a very case-by-case basis. I would think that if you have no design background and you come out, you might be a little bit more handicapped to look for a senior position, a UX position, rather than starting at a junior mid-level. 

However, having said that, I’ve heard people coming out with no design background and then going straight into a senior job because they could explain the design thinking process and they’re at the right place at the right time, with the company looking for something very specific that they could give.

I think it’s really a case by case basis and really hard to answer! So I’m sorry if I kind of skirted around that question. 

In terms of pay, again, case by case basis, but if you’re starting as a junior UX designer, I would say the benchmark of a junior UX designer would be more than what you would get as a graphic designer, that is an industry benchmark.

Audience question: As a UX designer how much work do you do remotely at home in comparison to in person? 

Sylvia: I would say, as a UX designer you probably would be able to do all your work remotely. However, it would be up to the company to implement any sort of mandate to come to the office normally during team days. Sometimes you do get a little bit more out of a collaborative space if you’re all together socialising and doing a bit of work as well.

Audience question: Are there any tips, advice or insight, you can give regarding the interview process for UX design role and what can we do to prepare? 

Sylvia: Make sure you are as approachable as possible and as empathetic as possible, because they’re going to ask you whatever they want to ask. Aim yourself with the knowledge of how you solve a problem and how you approach your testing. How you solve a problem is possibly what they’re really interested in.

Academy Xi: Thank you so much Sylvia, you shared your story with us today, and I think you’ve shared a lot of really interesting insights about the industry and how to break into it, especially for anyone who is a novice in UX and UI. 

We’ve all learned a lot, I learned a lot today, and I hope that all of you here on the call as well have been able to take something away from Sylvia’s story.

Kick start your career and gain in-demand skills with our 100% online UX UI Design course.  

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Academy Xi Blog

Can remote work & the great resignation ‘go the distance’?

By Academy Xi

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Following record-breaking demand for remote work, online educators and training providers have galvanised in response to ‘The Great Resignation’.

Supplying a sudden demand for employees with a digital skillset, these companies are preparing a ‘next generation’ workforce for the possibilities of remote work, helping millions stay ahead of the curve.  

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Conducting research at the start of 2019, employment website Indeed found that 68% of Australian employers had remote workers on their staff. Of these employers, 69% claimed that increased productivity was the biggest benefit of remote working, followed by improved morale, lower absenteeism and reduced employee turnover.

Data for Indeed’s survey was captured nearly a year before Coronavirus came into effect, with Australia’s first case confirmed on the 25th of January 2020 and restrictions beginning a few months later in March. A world of change has been presided over since the report’s publication. A more up-to-date study would document a much larger proportion of Australian companies facilitating remote roles. 

Large parts of Australian industry were locked down in response to the pandemic, with the Australian Computer Society (ACS) reporting the loss of 850,000 jobs throughout March and April in 2020. Meanwhile, Australia’s borders were closed to non-residents as of the 20th of March in the same year and the education sector was dramatically impacted. ACS pinpoints education as the nation’s fourth largest export earner. Like so many other companies and institutions, Australian education and training providers with a progressive mindset have upped their resourcefulness and continued to provide in-demand skills solutions online. 

 

A Remote Possibility

Though homeworking has been a cultural and economic necessity throughout coronavirus restrictions, it seems more than likely that a number of businesses who’ve sampled its benefits will move toward a larger remit of remote work permanently. 

As well as the personnel improvements noted by Indeed, a remote workforce offers the added financial incentive of less bricks-and-mortar office space. However, not every company’s activities will have translated well into an online infrastructure and some will revert to business-as-usual operations as soon as possible.

But what about companies that already had their sights set on remote horizons before the pandemic? For those businesses that made the leap into fully remote operations, it seems unlikely that many will find themselves looking back once the lockdown landscape is cleared.

A large number of organisations will have tested elements of a remote system throughout the pandemic and found it not only cost-effective, but also highly productive. This means many companies will emerge from the pandemic determined to maintain or even build out hybrid structures, with certain roles and responsibilities fulfilled from afar.

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Teams of people might have found virtual meetings to be an unfamiliar substitute for in-person interactions. However, many will have realised that online meets work perfectly well and will continue to hold them because it saves time and money. For similar reasons, executives might think twice before booking a long distance flight on company expenses. Many top level professionals will hold future board meetings virtually, thrashing out deals and wielding their power in crisp white shirts and wrinkled pyjama bottoms. 

Mismatched clothing has become an in-joke shared between remote workers throughout the pandemic. It’s a sign of the times, when everyone has thrown everything they can muster together, or done unusual things to deal with unusual circumstances. 

There’s a widespread notion that the pandemic has made the vast majority of people resourceful and adaptable. That said, the spectrum of social and economic effects brought about by Coronavirus exist on a scale. Nobody could reasonably claim that a pyjama wearing executive has been pushed too far beyond their comfort zone. 

Countless workers employed in retail, hospitality, tourism and leisure industries will have found themselves in tough situations. It comes as no surprise that many have quit these kinds of industries and professions, never to return.

 

‘The Great Resignation’

A recent US Labor Department report documented that 740,000 employees working in leisure and hospitality industries resigned in April 2021. These people had staffed diners, roadside motels, sports bars and theme parks, before the venues of the iconic American experience were transformed into a temporary ghost town. Many of these employees have taken themselves to a newer haunt, which is very much alive and kicking.

Digital industries and an expanding online workspace have been the driving force behind ‘The Great Resignation’, also known as ‘The Big Quit’. A record-breaking 4 million Americans left their jobs throughout April this year, with a large proportion of them leaving low-paid, inflexible roles and seeking to reposition themselves in digital careers (US Labor Department Report, 2021). 

More recent statistics indicate that the mindset of the quit movement has been influential in all levels of employment. A poll conducted by Forbes in late June 2021 found that nearly 40% of white-collar workers would move to another company offering remote work rather than go back to an old office job. Forbes notes that “even highly sought after companies like Apple are scrambling to avoid mass-resignations from return-to-office policies”.

In a similar vein, a survey captured by insurance and financial services giant Prudential established that “one in three American workers would not want to work for an employer that required them to work on site full time” (Forbes, 2021). With this statistic in mind, Prudential vice chair Rob Falzon confessed, “If there’s one thing that keeps me up at night, it’s the talent flight risk.” 

Three men sitting at a table outside while having a meeting

A precise percentage of how many resignees are following new career paths into the digital space will only become clearer with time. However, this mass exodus of staff, which stretches far beyond the US and into global employment markets, has been fundamentally linked to the enhanced possibilities of remote work. 

A 2021 report by Harvard Business School examined the records of 9 million employees from 4,000 companies, discovering that staff in tech and healthcare industries were most likely to resign. This is especially true for employees of companies that experienced increased demand for products and services. It doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to conclude that some of these staff members must have felt overworked, or undervalued.  

Many industry specialists believe that a version of the Great Resignation is already taking shape in Australia, with the conditions for a major employment shift already aligning. A recent large-scale salary survey by Hays, a worldwide recruitment specialist with offices in most of Australia’s major cities, concluded 40% of Australians are seriously considering career changes. Interviewed by Yahoo Finance, Hays Australia managing director, Nick Deligiannis, forecasts the Australian big quit in these terms.

There are signs that there could be a ‘Great Resignation’ in Australia soon, too. The pandemic has been a rude intrusion to many Australians’ career plans. They have put their career plans on hold to help their organisation through the crisis. Now, they are focused on their career again and have begun prioritising advancement. But while career progression is valued, just 16 per cent of employees expect to receive a promotion in the next 12 months.” – Nick Deligiannis (Hays Australia)

All this represents a power-shift, as a perfect storm of pandemic conditions is changing the hearts and minds of an Australian workforce. On a global scale, more people than ever before want and expect flexible working conditions, as well as better all round lifestyles. In some cases, they’re prepared to turn their backs on senior roles with blue chip companies in order to make this happen.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

For anyone who values their own work-life balance, resigning, upskilling and pursuing a remote career is a process that’s perfectly relatable. What’s trickier to understand is the timing with which a whole raft of employees are throwing themselves into a sea change of career diversification.        

The Great Resignation was coined by Texas A&M Management Professor, Anthony Klotz, whose research acknowledges that people voluntarily quitting jobs in large numbers amid an ongoing recession represents a longstanding economic trend ‘turned on its head’. In short, people have always resigned in greater numbers when the economy is stable and job opportunities are relatively high. In times of recession, people tend to ‘stay put’ and resignation rates drop and remain low. 

From December 2000 to the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, resignation among the total US workforce never surpassed 2.4% (The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, 2021). The first year of the pandemic played out as expected, with a seven-year resignation low of 1.6% throughout 2020. From the Spring of this year, everything changed and long standing resignation records have been shattered, peaking at 4%. In the eye of the nation’s worst ever economic storm, more Americans than ever before have lept ship and searched for new opportunities in digital industries.     

The Great Resignation is a clear indication that many employees are becoming more proactive and savvy in their career moves. 49% of students that study with Academy Xi expect to secure a new role at a different company upon completion of their studies. Many of our students have realised that more enjoyable and stable opportunities have already presented and will continue to arise as the effects of the pandemic ease off. 

When Covid conditions pass completely, hiring rates are anticipated to continue moving upward, following a steady trajectory in the medium-term and replicating the growth patterns of previous post-recession economies. By upskilling through workshops and preparing to latch on to an upturn in remote work opportunities, millions of people are realising the value of staying ahead of the curve.  

A Great Resignation thought-piece article published in recent weeks by Forbes has argued that too many people are resigning without a new role lined-up. In doing so, they’re throwing themselves into limbo and losing the salary bargaining leverage that comes with keeping their current job contract. There’s a simple but failsafe solution to this problem, whereby people seeking better work opportunities can re-skill part-time, enter into the jobs market formally prepared for a new role and hand in their notice once a new position is secured. Before you make the leap into a digital career, get the skills and experience needed to land that new role and hit the ground running.

  

Realising A Workforce’s Digital Potential 

What does an increase in remote work opportunities mean for the next generation of employees? In short, it means absolutely everything. Remote workers have a better chance of balancing hard work, health and happiness – that all important trio of variables that contribute to individual productivity.

Throughout the pandemic, companies and employees have learned that embracing the overlapping nature of work life and life-in-general can bring about real results. Here, it’s useful to circle back to the findings of the Indeed report. The numbers don’t lie. Those people who are able to fulfil at least some of their job’s remit remotely tend to be more productive. The flexible scheduling of remote work also gives people a better chance to meet all of life’s other responsibilities. As a result, they’ll likely be more content in their work and remain loyal to their company. This is backed-up by the reduced staff turnover and absenteeism reported by Indeed.

When properly supported by training and skills development, digital industries give people more time and space to evolve their careers, perform their best work and realise their full professional potential.

Man behind laptop while team works around him

What does this look like? Well, some people like to work in bursts of an hour, broken-up by ten-minute periods of lying on the ground and doing everything possible to think of nothing. Meditating in the office should not be frowned-upon socially but does represent a trip hazard. Others are more zen working at 1am, after returning from a 24hour convenience store with a bottle of Mountain Dew, ready to start a graveyard shift of coding.

Giving talented people greater freedom to work in ways that suit their lifestyles will normally ensure maximum individual output and high quality work, helping a company as a whole achieve a healthier bottom line. As long as a remote employee manages their time, prioritises, keeps teammates ‘in the loop’ and hits deadlines, no one in a senior position will spend too much time thinking about how and when things got done.

It comes as no surprise that increased freedom means trust is a core component of the employer-employee relationships which oversee remote roles. The starting assumption will be that people are just as productive somewhere else as they are in the office. If they aren’t, or they struggle to juggle tasks effectively, most managers will treat that as an exception and course-correct when it’s necessary. It’s an arrangement that cuts both ways. Employers have an obligation to ensure that a workforce is properly trained for all the responsibilities that a remote role demands. More and more companies developing remote operations will contract the help of online trainers who practice what they preach. The best academies will offer flexible online course options that move fluidly with the times, providing up-to-date remote solutions for remote work problems.

With rapidly evolving digital infrastructure, a record breaking demand for working remotely, and online skills development providers preparing a ‘next generation’ workforce, the question on many people’s minds is not “Can remote work go the distance?”, but instead “Can I?”. 

The Great Resignation has shown us all that the toughest of times can make people bolder. Millions of people with digital career ambitions have immediately flipped the two words of this question into a new order, forming a simple but priceless statement of post-pandemic intent. “I Can”.

Academy Xi Blog

Behind the scenes: how Academy Xi drives student success

By Academy Xi

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Businesses want to be customer-centric, but few come close. How do we put our students front and centre, and deliver the best-in-class training in the digital space? Let’s take a look behind the scenes. 

Continuous learning is not just another fad: for many, it’s now a part of life. Learners from all backgrounds are flocking to short, skills-focussed training more than ever before. Motivations vary wildly – from kickstarting careers to reclaiming confidence, from helping businesses soar to simply learning for enjoyment. 

Check how we at Academy Xi, Make it Happen, for you and your future. 

So what does Academy Xi do differently to deliver the best experience and outcomes for our students? 

Sounds cheesy, but it really is a team effort, weaving human-centred design principles into everything we do. We chat to our leadership to learn more. 

Product Development 

Tiffany McHugh, Head of Product (Learning), explains Academy Xi’s approach to delivering highly engaging content for online learning. 

The Product Team at Academy Xi is made up of highly experienced, technically skilled learning designers who are using Human Centred Design principles to create world class online learning – essentially practising what we preach! With backgrounds from instructional design, teaching, education management, and multimedia design & production, the team uses a mix of learning theory and digital practices to design experiences, not just course content. 

At the heart of it, we aim to demystify technology in a rapidly changing industry. Our job is to explain complex ideas in simple terms, using plain friendly language, supported by plenty of real world examples and industry stories. No lofty jargon, no unexplained terminology, no intimidating concepts – we aim to make our courses as accessible as humanly possible. 

Our courses are particularly unique in that we create our own learning frameworks; these are deeply researched, co-designed with industry experts, and delicately balanced sets of design, business and technical skills that employers in digital industries want. These frameworks underpin all course material we create in-house, ensuring we deliver the learning outcomes students need for their careers now, and into the future. 

The result is a suite of online courses that give students the perfect mix of skills, practice and knowledge they need to confidently advance their careers, or even start a new career

The courses are easy to progress through, using a combination of multimedia content, plenty of interactivity, lots of social engagement opportunities and regular learning support from the mentors and student experience teams. Our learning platform is specifically selected for the best user experience possible, and feedback confirms this to be true – our students love it! 

Learning is a two-way conversation, so we design-in plenty of opportunities for learners to check their growing capability, get feedback and test ideas with others.

We also update our course content regularly to make sure what we teach is as current and fresh as you will find anywhere in the world. 

I was blown away by how the course was put together and loved the fortnightly catch ups with my group. The course structure and delivery kept us all engaged with the topics we were covering each week and a lot of the resources were very comprehensive and super helpful. I liked the mixture of mediums used for course instruction – video content, written and live tutorials – it worked well. I also really enjoyed the quizzes and having break out rooms to discuss concepts with my classmates.” – Imogen Abandowitz, Digital Marketing Elevate graduate

Student Experience

Chris Veness (Head of Design & Business Portfolio)  and Renju Phillip (Head of Technology Portfolio) chat to us about how the student experience is shaped by mentors and the student support team. 

The Academy Xi Student Experience team has a combined 30 years of expertise in delivering online education and building digital capability. The team’s commitment to delivering a first-class learning experience for our students really sets us apart.

Our learning model empowers students to not only absorb new (and sometimes complex) concepts, but also put what they learn into practice right away. 

We do this by engaging some of the world’s best industry practitioners as our ‘Mentors’. With backgrounds ranging from Customer Experience to UX Design and Data Analytics to Software Engineering, these qualified professionals know what first-class looks like and are very passionate about sharing their knowledge.  

Every person who chooses to study our courses achieves the highest level of commitment and support from our team to ensure they succeed – in the course, and beyond graduation.

We pride ourselves on our small class sizes, which allow students to participate more fully in discussions and get to know each other more intimately.

Academy Xi online training was completely different. I made so many new connections and I felt a sense of community that I didn’t with university training. The class sizes were small, so we actually got to know each other – it was way more engaging.” – Oshi Paranavitane, UX UI Design Transform graduate

Our live sessions are run by Mentors who provide far more than just training –  they supply our students with operational perspectives from their current industry practices, using client scenarios and real case studies to bring the learning to life.

“There’s always this question in your mind of whether I could have learned it on YouTube. You see a lot of stories around software developers or engineers self learning on Udemy. But where this course distinguishes itself is the real people – a supportive peer to peer network. Making use of the unlimited mentoring sessions was critical. [My mentor] Albert did a great job and I didn’t know initially that you could book time with him everyday, but then, after a few weeks when I did that, and started accelerating – it made all the difference.” 

– Barry Nguyen, Software Engineering Transform graduate

Our courses are all designed such that our students learn by doing, and walk away with immediately applicable practical skills. Projects are therefore an important cornerstone of each course. Depending on the course, these may be real-world client projects, or personal projects. 

Live client projects are a unique feature of our Transform courses, which really take learning to the next level. Students work on real business problems and deliver their solutions using learned skills. Our students graduate with real world experience and exposure to relevant industry practices… and have the portfolio or github profile to showcase these projects. 

Our unique training and delivery model ensures the highest level of success to best prepare our graduates for any interview.

“I went in with high expectations, which were all met. I totally understand why people recommend this course, and in particular, Hayden… [the training and project] absolutely enabled me to get the job with Westpac.” –  Yuka Mochizuki, UX UI Transform graduate

Career Support 

Will Phillips, Head of Career Support & Talent Services, explains the different tools used to empower our Transform graduates to secure jobs in their field of choosing.

Everyone’s journey is different when it comes to their career path, and here at Academy Xi we provide our graduates with the tools, support and guidance to help them take that first step towards achieving their individual goals and landing that dream job. During their Transform course students have access to our digital Career Toolkit which establishes the foundations needed to be job market ready, covering topics such as resumé writing, crafting the perfect cover letter, building a personal brand and harnessing the power of LinkedIn for your job search. 

Post-course our graduates can opt into our industry-leading Career Support Program where they have access to a Career Coach to help refine their job search strategy, in a one-on-one setting. As participants in the program, the graduates are in the driver’s seat and are accountable for their own job search, with the Academy Xi team on hand to help them navigate the employment market, providing insights, advice and guidance where necessary. Everything from interview preparation, networking tips and mindset coaching is available as part of the Career Support program, which is tailored to each participant’s needs through our personalised approach.

Our Talent Services team are focused on creating awareness within industry about the pipeline of graduates coming through our courses and tap into our extensive network of employers to seek out potential opportunities that might be the right fit for someone at the start of their new career.

As a team, what motivates us is seeing our graduates land that first role and transform their careers into something new and exciting. We are very proud that 9 out of 10 of our active participants in the Career Support Program land a role in under 180 days. In many ways this last phase is the toughest part of the whole course, it’s not easy to get your foot in the door and it takes a lot of drive and determination. A job search is challenging and there is no golden ticket or cheat sheet to achieve instant results. Everyone’s path is different and those graduates who put in the hard yards and stay motivated are the ones that make it happen.

“The practical up-to-the-minute advice from Dan and the Career Support team was absolutely outstanding. Being able to practice for mock interviews and talk through how to best approach my non-linear career journey, and compose my own narrative for the job market, was critical to land my new role shortly afterwards.” 

Alessio Somma, Service Design graduate

In the words of Matt Hill, Co-CEO, “It’s absolutely fantastic to hear these success stories – from both students and corporate clients –  as it reinforces that our approach to learning is delivering tangible individual and business outcomes. It’s so pleasing to see teams come together to deliver a fantastic result for our students and clients.” 

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With Academy Xi, you can make it happen. 

For your business. For your career. For your team. For your future. 

To learn more about our courses for individuals and teams, contact us at admissions@academyxi.com or 1300 098 165.

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