Since you are a Small Business Connect reader, it is likely that you know how to use a computer.
But consider this: only one in every three households in a “rich” city like Johannesburg has a computer; and that drops to a quarter of households in Durban.
Without a computer at home, most youth can’t practice this vital skill. The sad result is that many school-leavers are not proficient with the basic functions of a computer – word processing, spreadsheets, email, presentations and editing of pictures.
For most jobs these days you will need basic computer proficiency, so there is a lot of training that needs to be done.
Have you considered setting up a business to offer that training?
COULD YOU DO IT?
As a computer software trainer, you teach people to understand and use computer programs. You may focus on a specialist area of software or on a particular program, but would usually provide tailored training packages on a range of applications.
You could focus on popular business software applications such as Microsoft Office, or you could offer training in specialised applications for specific business sectors. Software trainers may also sell software to customers, do upgrades of existing software, and carry out technical support and troubleshooting.
To be a trainer, you’ll need to be a good presenter and communicator, so that you can explain difficult technical issues in a clear way. You must be self-confident, and feel comfortable when speaking in front of groups of people.
You must also be flexible in how you adapt to various working environments; you may, for example, need to do one-on-one training in a small business or a home, or you may have to train a big group of staff in a larger organisation.
WHAT TO LEARN?
Many people start by studying for an International Computer Driving License (ICDL), which is an end-user standard and is awarded when a student can show practical proficiency in each of the most commonly used computer programs. Visit www.icdl.org.za for more information.
While you might be able to start off doing training for people who know you (and trust your competence), you will need to become accredited if you want to grow your business. People who get trained by you want to know that the certificate they receive will be recognised by potential employers.
One of the most important agencies in this regard is the Media, Information and Communications Technology Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT Seta). Visit www.mict.org.za for more about how to get accredited.
Accreditation will involve aligning the training you offer to the unit standards set out in the South African Qualifications Authority; it will get quite technical so ask about some guidance on getting through these hurdles.
TRAINING FOR PROFESSIONALS
Many software providers such as Microsoft offer training for professionals so that they can learn about any new products and develop their skills. If you are able to achieve “Approved Trainer” status by completing one of these courses, it would mean that you are certified by the software firm as a qualified instructor, and can provide official training on their products.
Visit the Microsoft South Africa website (www.microsoft.com/southafrica) for more information.
HOW’S THE MARKET
Companies are the biggest market for computer training, but government departments also need these services. Talk to the big employers in your area (get to the human resources manager) and find out what training they look for, and whether it matches what you can offer.
Keep an eye on training tenders for local, provincial and national government. Talk to local schools and colleges – many want their matriculants or graduates to have computer skills, but do not offer that training themselves. When you’re starting up you can also target individual customers by offering training at their homes.
Check out the competition
Your main source of competition will be larger and more established training organisations. Visit www.skillsportal.co.za and search for companies that offer “computer skills”.
Browse their websites for information on what they offer, how they do it, what they charge and where they are based. By understanding your competitors you can find a niche for your own business.