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The Case 11 September Sep 2020 0907 11 September 2020

Reskilling during lockdown: stories of people who have (re)invented their careers

A wide variety of online training courses were available during quarantine - some people have even managed to turn their passion into a career or turned around their business

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During the ordeal of lockdown which left millions of people unable to work, some stories of hope have emerged. The correct technical term for our topic is reskilling: many people who were unable to carry on with their normal jobs have used the time resourcefully, reinventing their careers or learning new skills for post-pandemic times.

Many companies and even private individuals offered online courses free of charge during lockdown: cookery, social media, DIY and even finance. For those who normally have little time on their hands in their busy working lives, this was a great opportunity to explore their passions.

Here are just some of their stories.

The setting for our first story is close to Rimini. Angelo Zanforlin is 34 and a sales agent, but during lockdown he developed his culinary skills so well that as lockdown eased, he started a new business: “I decided to turn my huge passion for cooking into a proper career – Angelo told local monthly magazine La Piazza – though I am still running the business alongside my job as a sales agent.” Angelo has also set up a Facebook page and an Instagram account (Cuccagna which stands for Cuoco Casa Romagna - Home Chef Romagna).

Angelo’s is not a simple catering business as he has opted to prepare meals for his clients in their homes. “I’m offering a private chef service at the moment. My clients can buy the raw ingredients themselves or I can give them advice on what to buy, then if needed I take along my equipment and cook them a fish or meat-based dinner.” If a client plans to organise a romantic dinner for two, for example, then Angelo prepares the meal so they can then simply re-heat before serving.

34-year-old sales agent, Angelo Zanforlin, 34, discovered his culinary skills during lockdown

Not everyone opted for a new career. Giulia Casadei, an ice cream maker from Gambettola (in Emilia Romagna), took the opportunity to build up her current business. During the weeks of lockdown, the only activity open to her was to take walks through the fields near her home. This was how she found her inspiration, as she told local newspaper Corriere Cesenate: “I love nature, I’ve always had a passion for flowers and plants. My inspiration came to me when walking in the fields because there was nothing else I could do during lockdown. So, I read up on the topic and started combining flowers and the spices I grow in my garden with my ice cream.”

The perfume from the meadows inspired Giulia to read up on how she could blend the plants and now that her ice cream shop is open again, the new meadow flower flavours are ready to try. “My new flavours are Forest Rose, Sweet Dreams and Provence - my first flower-based ice creams. I start with rose, lavender and camomile petals that I infuse to obtain extracts, which I then add to the classic ice cream base to create new flavours.”

Thanks to a digital marketing course, Laura Fecchio now promotes her beauty salon on social media

Beauty salon owner Laura Fecchio has become more ‘digital’. Like many, she had to close down her business in Bolzano for months.

How could she make the best use of her time? By taking online marketing and social media courses which have helped her develop her business and offer a wider range of services: “I took a digital marketing course – Laura tells local paper Il Dolomiti – and I realized that was the only way forward. Of course, I didn’t do it all by myself, I have the support of a specialist company. Meetings, discussions and planning session taught me what I need to know.”

Laura found herself dealing with totally new subjects (like social media communications) that came in very handy for her business: “I literally spent eight hours a day on my phone and laptop.” As a result, her beauty salon’s online channels have gone beyond her goal to develop e-commerce activities, also attracting a wider audience. “We always talked about the beauty business but also about ourselves and how we were coping during lockdown. We played down the dramatic aspects and tried to make people smile.” The result: a beauty salon that has also become an influencer in its own small way.

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