Remote working and redundancy support driving growth of tech training business

A training business which helps people take confidence from crises is reporting record growth after steering clients through Covid and economic decline.

Debbie Kuhr-Jones, Director of K2 Training Services Limited

Debbie Kuhr-Jones, Director of K2 Training Services Limited, said her workload has doubled from the combination of increased demand for remote training and recurring interest in her long-term specialist area of re-training after redundancy.

Debbie was driven to setting up the business after experiencing redundancy twice herself. In 1998 she lost her job as a typist so used her pay-off to upskill herself while also picking up various jobs it pay the bills and learn about technology.

That commitment led to her becoming training manager at a Hull-based IT company and when that closed in 2007 she decided to go it alone offering specialist Microsoft tuition.

As a one-woman business Debbie provides regular work for two freelance trainers with a client base which includes such major employers as the NHS, a number of global businesses with operations in the East Yorkshire area and her own landlord – The Deep Business Centre in Hull.

As she delivers services to clients as far afield as London, India, Singapore and the United States, Debbie says she noticed two big changes in the use of technology by big businesses as a result of Covid.

She said: “The obvious one has been the use of Teams. Some of my clients are in sectors which never stopped at all during lockdown and they had to have all their training delivered remotely rather than in person in our training suite or at their offices.

“I wasn’t sure it would work because sometimes you couldn’t see the people, just their initials on the screen. It’s important to watch them to make sure they are picking everything up, but we got there. In 2020-21 about 75 per cent of our work was on Teams. It’s still big, but now about 85 per cent has gone back to face-to-face work.”

The second stand-out change has been a stronger commitment by businesses to train their staff. Debbie’s work for The Deep highlights two scenarios.

She said: “We have been doing training for staff at The Deep, filling some of the gaps and training in Excel, Word and Outlook specific to their roles rather than including things that aren’t relevant for them.

“We also trained a chef who wanted to move into a different role and suddenly needed to develop his IT skills to work on things like training plans and product contents, dietary requirements and other procedures and policies.

“The Deep is one of the majority of businesses which have always been serious about training, but elsewhere there were some employees who had never received formal training on computers. It was just assumed that we all knew how to use them.

“If someone’s laptop breaks a company has no qualms about replacing it but when technology changes they rarely show the same commitment to help people use it properly. That changed as a result of lockdown because IT became more important than ever in terms of keeping a business running.”

Support for people losing their jobs has never stopped, and includes building confidence to go with the skills.

Debbie said: “Business has easily doubled since Covid because the demand has been there and the flexibility of the space at The Deep Business Centre enables us to add the extra capacity. We expect further growth because we have a loyal customer base and we secure a lot of business from word of mouth.

“We also still pick up work training people for new roles after redundancy. When I tell delegates about my background I sometimes end up advising them on setting up their own business. I try to encourage them because I know from experience that redundancy does present a big opportunity. The difference is that I had to fund my own training and didn’t receive any additional support from my employer.”

Freya Cross, Head of Business and Corporate at The Deep, said: “K2 Training Services Limited is a great example of a fledgling business which came here with considerable expertise and a lot of contacts but which needed help with premises and reception services.

“It has been a pleasure to support Debbie with that over the last 16 years and to have someone with her skills and knowledge on hand. Debbie is always happy to pop into the back office to help one of the team with a Microsoft issue.”