Spotlight on: Michael Wood, ABC Languages

Name: Michael Wood    

Job Title: Operations Manager

Company: ABC Languages

Member: Since: 2011

 

We have been using the unexpected downtime to work on making our courses even better and planning for a very popular summer school for 5-17 year olds in 2021

Tell us a bit about your role and how it supports the business?

As Operations Manager I spend a lot of my time planning and preparing our English as a Foreign Language courses for individuals, groups and families. Providing support to staff is also a key part of my role.

If you were not working in this sector what other industry would you have pursued a career in?

The opportunity to meet people from all over the world and seeing our students progress in their studies is incredibly rewarding. If I had pursued a career in another sector, it probably would be something in a similar working environment, perhaps in a university setting.

What are the emerging trends within your sector?

We are still seeing a relatively high demand for English courses for high school groups. Also, our summer school for 5 years+ continues to grow each year.

We have seen a decrease in numbers for adult face-to-face courses, a trend which is echoed by our competitors. For the adult students who still want these courses, flexibility and price appear to be key factors. Our part-time adult courses are steady year-on-year and we have seen an uptake in online courses in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is coming up for your company in the next 12/18 months?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the next 12-18 months are still a little uncertain, but plan to welcome students back to our school in the Autumn.

We have been using the unexpected downtime to work on making our courses even better and planning for our a very popular summer school for 5-17 year olds in 2021.

As we head towards recovery what do you think the challenges and opportunities are for our sector?

Our biggest challenge will be to encourage clients to travel again once things start to return to “normal”. In addition to travel restrictions and fear, many people across the world will have been heavily affected financially by this pandemic. Innovation is key; changing how our courses are offered, reviewing pricing and offering more flexibility (cancellation, postponement etc) are things we will need to consider.

How do you think Covid-19 will change our industry (if at all)?

In the short-term we have of seen a decrease in demand in face-to-face courses even after lockdown and travel restrictions have been lifted. We will continue to offer courses online to complement our in-house English courses.

In the long term, our hope is that consumer confidence will return and that our clients will want to travel to the UK for Language studies either as a stand-alone booking or in combination with an online course.

Name three positives to come out of lockdown
  • We had been planning to offer a programme of online English courses prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, although with a busy school it was difficult to find a time to fully implement this. Lockdown and in turn the temporary closure of our school, gave us the time to invest our resources into offering these courses.
  • This unexpected downtime has also allowed us to work on some other projects that have been in the pipeline, such as improving our offering of English Courses and reviewing our marketing strategy.
  • The lockdown has proved that we can operate remotely if this is necessary. No longer is there a fear of attending zoom/skype or teams calls (with the camera on) and there has been an increased confidence from our team in using online systems.

Find out more about BETA Member ABC Languages here