The moment the pandemic forced us to stay home, we had to devise a new way of living and working. The living room turned into an office and classroom, the work routine was interrupted by cooking lunch, and instead of afternoon sports activities, we spent time on video calls with colleagues. We will remember the spring of 2020 as the one when time stood still and in which we also had the opportunity to stop and think about what kind of life we want to have and how we will continue with our daily business routine. The same process went through the companies and organizations we work in – if they didn’t adapt quickly or if they weren’t digitized, they faced the challenges of accelerated digital transformation to enable employees to work from home.
Some companies, aware that change is inevitable, have further educated their employees to better adapt to new circumstances. Every job will increasingly need digital skills, and over the next five years, nearly 149 million new jobs will be created in the areas of cybersecurity, software development, and machine learning, commented Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.
During the 8 months from July 2020 to March 2021, almost 20,000 Croatians took advantage of the opportunity to acquire digital skills free of charge through Microsoft’s global initiative to acquire skills through learning on LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, and GitHub Learning Lab platforms. In addition to learning, participants also can obtain a world-renowned Microsoft certificate at a special price of $ 15.
We spoke to several people from various sectors, who explained to us why they decided to educate themselves during the pandemic and what brought them new knowledge. Tea Krpan is the director of the Mozaik Group, an event management company that manages the Mozaik Event Center congress center (better known as the Hypo Event Center). She commented on how she coped with the pandemic and how the company reorganized its business to survive. “The global pandemic has completely changed the way we do business in some industries, and among them is ours – the event industry, or event management. Soon after the first lockdown, we realized that if we want to survive, we need to change the way of thinking, or create a new business model with the help of modern technologies. We already had a lot of experience with live stream, hologram screenings and hybrid events because we did bigger conferences and summits all over Europe, but all that experience and knowledge had to be used for a new model for small, medium, or large events at a time when globally none the event was not held live. LinkedIn online courses on data analysis tools, project management, and online event management tools, as well as Microsoft Learn Power BI courses, helped me design our new streaming and virtual event studios in the new Mozaik Event Center.”
Anita Mikić, head of the group for the Retail & Trade and Production & Manufacturing sector at Hrvatski Telekom, was trained at Microsoft Learn and passed the Microsoft certification exam, which helps her perform everyday business tasks even more efficiently: “The digital age we live in brings us accelerated processes of change that we must monitor. Without continuous investment in personal development and improvement of knowledge and skills, it is not possible to develop a successful career, and it is also a basic prerequisite for the growth and development of the company’s business. Microsoft certifications as an industry standard are recognized all over the world and from the sales perspective in which I work, education and certification allows me to better understand the technology, and thus better understand the user and his needs. ”
Marina Šafarić, manager of the Mozaik Event Center, also received training through LinkedIn Learning. She commented on what her focus was and what new elements in sales the pandemic brought: “When you work in sales, it is important to know at all times who you are addressing, how you approach customers, what your advantages are, and why they should choose you, your service or space. The health situation turned everything upside down, so in a few days from the Center booked a few months in advance, we reached the stage that there were no events at all for 2 months. We adjusted the offer and supplemented it with online and hybrid events, but we also needed to adjust communication, i.e. contact a wider circle of clients who do not necessarily know what an online or hybrid event is, and would like to contact their partners, users or community. On LinkedIn, I looked at a series of sales trainings and trainings on how to approach the client in new circumstances, both from the business and the human side, because people were very afraid of the unknown and the development of the situation in the future.”
Numerous employees of companies from the ICT sector used their time from home for additional learning, as they did before the pandemic. In the ICT sector, Microsoft certificates are recognized as extremely valuable because they are globally recognized, and research has shown that people with certificates find it easier to find a job because the certificate testifies to their expertise and faster career advancement and better pay.
“The time in which I live, as well as the area in which I work, require continuous learning and acquisition of new knowledge and skills. Sometimes it’s not easy, but initiatives like this one from Microsoft (and Algebra) emerge, which, with its many benefits, makes it even easier to acquire new knowledge through a customized approach. Certification in all this comes as the icing on the cake, it is an additional challenge, but in the end, it serves as a confirmation of what has been learned/adopted. I think certification is essential and that rounds out the whole story around hard work and learning new things. So far, I have used Microsoft Learn and LinkedIn Learning, with the help of which I renewed my certificates and took new ones, and that is my plan. I think that this global initiative can be very useful for anyone who wants to improve or retrain, “commented Tomica Kaniški, Expert Administrator of IT Systems in the ICT Infrastructure Department at A1 Croatia.
The hotel and catering sector is one of the most affected by the pandemic. Sanja Marić, head of controlling at the hotel company MEDORA Hotels & Resorts, commented on how her work was affected by the pandemic and what she did: “I think this global epidemic has burdened us all, not only psychologically and physically, but also financially. Both life and the way of working have turned 180 degrees, especially in the hotel and tourism sector where I work. Already last spring it was clear that we need to change the concept of work to be able to sustain the business, and this is especially evident in controlling. During the spring and summer, I looked at a series of online courses through LinkedIn Learning related to the finance sector. Hone your skills for data analysis and learn new models for their visualization is something that makes me very happy, and after completing the LinkedIn program Data Analyst and preparation through Microsoft Learning, I plan to obtain a Power BI certificate. In addition, Algebra offers further additional education for those who want to continue to develop professionally because learning and development never stop.”
Anastazija Crnković, Billing & Collection Data Analytics Expert, Billing and Collection Data Analytics Department at A1 Hrvatska, added: “In modern times, changes are happening faster than ever before. Accordingly, our approach to education can no longer be what it was years before. It is no longer enough to learn something and consider it an invariable fact. Today, when change is happening, the need for constant learning is necessary. It is therefore important to find ways in which we can maintain and test our own awareness of new technologies and knowledge. Universal certification gives us the certainty that we have current knowledge in the field in which we work, which encourages us in the implementation of our ideas. On the other hand, it is a universal indicator of the level of our skills towards others and can serve as an advantage in gaining trust to perform certain jobs and tasks. ”
Microsoft recently announced that it is extending its global digital skills initiative until December 31, 2021. So, sign up via the link and throw yourself into learning, gain new digital skills and take a step forward or a complete career turnaround. And maybe it’s time to find exactly the job you’ve always dreamed of!