If you believe the figures, the UK economy is holding up remarkably well, despite concerns about Brexit and the Trump election.
However, we suspect the figures are misleading.
I hate to be a harbinger of doom and I genuinely hope I am wrong, but we have seen similar signs before and the omens are not good. As a training provider, we know all too well that training and marketing spend are often the first items corporates cull when uncertainty is in the air. Our sector has often proven to be a good economic barometer.
Since the turn of this year, the volume of enquiries let alone bookings from large companies has dried up significantly. Conversely, an increasing number of marketers are starting to investigate professional marketing qualifications like CIM and MRS as a means of improving their career prospects. However, these individuals are very tentative. They are not sure whether they should start now or wait until the Autumn or even next year.
We last saw these behaviours back in 2007. Those of us with long enough memories will recall just how tough the subsequent years were.
So, what lessons can be learned from history?
Whether we like it or not, markets don’t like uncertainty. Uncertainty breeds stagnation. Decisions become difficult to make whether you are an individual or multi-national, so few decisions are made.
It is a bold move to maintain investment in training in times of uncertainly. It is even bolder for individuals, but we had plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that the rewards for those that do keep upskilling can be significant.
During the last recession, many companies stopped investing in their marketing teams. There were some exceptions – most notably the charity sector. As the fight for every pound donated became more intense, many charities realised that to ensure competitive advantage they needed a more highly skilled marketing workforce. This was in marked contrast to supposedly more commercial organisations who perceived marketing and training to be discretionary spend.
Not surprisingly when the shoots of recovery eventually started to appear, there was a significant skills gap and the corporates started spending heavily on training again. The barometer had swung and we enjoyed the boom years.
Those individuals who had invested in their professional qualifications and skills were in high demand.
Furthermore, those individuals (and companies) who were brave enough to make the jump early and commit to their ongoing training and development reaped the rewards. They were ahead of the competition when the market did turn.
So, if you are an individual, keep investing in yourself and get started now. The sooner you build your skills and credibility, the sooner you will be able to take advantage of new opportunities that will inevitably emerge in a post-Brexit world.