Here is our recent interview with Julian Roberts, CEO of EssentialSkillz:
Q: Julian, can you tell us something more about EssentialSkillz history and your eLearning courses?
A: Since its founding in 2001 in Galway Ireland, EssentialSkillz has been dedicated to creating engaging eLearning courses that cover a wide variety of topics relating to workplace safety, security and beyond.
Our goal has always been to offer effective training solutions that help organisations stay compliant, whilst also helping them to effectively safeguard their stakeholders and boost their performance.
As well as training courses, we also develop compliance solutions, such as our Learning Management System and ErogWize, our DSE focused training and risk assessment software.
Galway is still home to EssentialSkillz today and is the current base of operations for our support and development teams. They’re also supported by our customer-facing teams which have offices located in Chester (UK) and across the pond in New York (USA).
Q: What types of courses do you provide to your clients?
A: Our main priority has always been to develop training that empowers organisations to take proactive steps towards their compliance training. As a result, our eLearning library is comprised of a wide variety of courses covering all aspects of health and safety and business protection, from topics such as Fire Safety and Working at Height to GDPR and Cybersecurity.
In recent years the push to destigmatise mental health and promote awareness has empowered organisations to take positive steps to address the wellbeing of their employees. This cultural shift marks a positive step forward and allows us to use our expertise to continue to deliver informative, engaging and meaningful content. As a result, we recently introduced our new Mental Health and Wellbeing pack, which covers topics ranging from Mental Health and Mindfulness to Stress Awareness and Time Management.
While we’re extraordinarily proud of the quality of our eLearning library, we also understand that some organisations value training that reflects their unique workspaces and internal practices. As a result, each and every EssentialSkillz course is 100% editable by our customers. Our authoring tool gives admins a wide variety of powerful editing tools so they can tailor any course to their specific needs.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges have you faced since starting out?
A: When we first started to build the business 18 years ago, eLearning was still very much a new concept – most businesses still favoured the pencil and paper approach, so it was a good opportunity for us to establish ourselves in the market quite early on. However, the extraordinary growth of technology and infrastructure in the workplace of today has seen eLearning become an increasingly saturated market.
As a result, one of the greatest challenges we’ve encountered over the years in how we try to differentiate ourselves in an increasingly competitive marketplace. With emerging technologies such as VR and gamification changing the field as we know it, we knew we had to find our niche in the market. For us, our focus has always been on creating versatile compliance-focused training, and that became our guiding principle – to know the value of our product and strive to do it better than anyone else. Knowing our niche and the value that we can bring to businesses has really helped us to not only survive but thrive in our market.
Q: What makes you stand out from other eLearning solutions?
A: I believe there are 3 key points that allow us the differentiate ourselves from other eLearning providers on the market.
To begin with, we invest a lot of resources to produce high quality and high-value content in each and every product we create. Our content development team put time, money and research into creating courses that are engaging, informative and that are at the forefront of effective learning. Each course is also regularly updated to ensure that they remain at the forefront of evolving industry standards and best practice.
We know compliance, and it remains the foundation on which all our products are built. It’s not a case completed vs non-completed training – it requires engagement on both sides. Our Learning Management System goes below the surface and tracks how many times admins have tried to engage with the user to encourage compliance, which creates a comprehensive audit trail that can be recalled at any time. We not only create compliance-focused products – we do it better than anyone else out there.
One thing that has enabled us to stand out against the crowd is our amazing support team. Recently recognised at the BSIF Customer Service Award, they’re always on hand to help our customers to find the right solution. We really wouldn’t be where we are without them and the service they provide.
Q: Can you give us insights into your pricing plans?
A: All of our products are provided on an annual subscription-based service, the cost of which is determined by the number of users, their requirements and the length of their contract. Our Sales Team work closely with our clients to ensure they have a contract that is tailored specifically to their needs.
As part of our plans for 2019, we recently launched a new pricing page feature on our website. Now anyone interested in our products can build their perfect training solution by adding exactly what they want to their prospective plan. Once they’ve submitted their requirements a member of our sales team will send through an obligation-free quote that lets them know exactly what they’re getting for their money.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: Our current plan for the future is founded on two primary courses of action. Throughout 2019 we’ve been working on a variety of projects, from creating new content to enhancing existing courses within our catalogue. Additionally, our teams have also been working on new designs and increased functionality for our key products. Since we first started out EssentialSkillz has continued to experience extraordinary growth year on year, and I think that really has a lot to do with our desire to explore every avenue open to us in terms of our products and content.
Additionally, thanks to our growth, we’ve recently welcomed a wave of new hires into the company. As proud as I am of the products we develop, we couldn’t do it without the hard work each team puts in. So far, the second focus for our future is not only on building and investing in our teams but also on individual development. Just this year out support team were recognised by the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) for their dedication to outstanding customer service. I think this is a good indication that we are moving in the right direction as a business, and we’re looking forward to tackling any new challenges the future may have in store.