Business is missing a trick by not exploiting further education colleges for their e-learning prowess, says Maggie Roy of the LSC
E-learning represents an important option among the plethora of training choices available today. The internet plays an integral role in life, so it is good news that learners can access training opportunities through this medium. With this in mind, further education (FE) colleges have developed an extensive range of e-learning initiatives, tailored to the needs of the workplace.
FE colleges can play a crucial role in enabling businesses to make the most of opportunities offered by e-learning. Dedicated business units mean these colleges are finely attuned to the skills needed in the workplace. Vocational courses are created in response to these needs, thereby addressing skills shortages and creating a more qualified workforce.
Despite the training opportunities on offer from FE colleges, including e-learning options, businesses have been slow to exploit this resource.
A large number of organisations choose to spend precious resources buying in commercial training packages when there are quality-assured training programmes available from FE colleges.
This includes the cost of e-learning initiatives. First and foremost, they offer flexibility in an era when demands are increasingly being made on employees' time. As e-learning packages can be accessed 24-hours a day, learners can choose when they want to learn and at what pace, rather than complying with a classroom schedule. In addition, this level of accessibility means training does not have to occur during working hours. For this reason, it represents a viable option to staff who find it difficult to marry training objectives with their work commitments.
Perhaps the greatest benefit which FE colleges can bring via e-learning and other media is an upsurge in skills among the workforce.
These range from problem-solving and improved literacy, to gaining the ability to communicate effectively. Not least are the IT skills which e-learning cultivates, again an essential tool in the workplace.
It is clear therefore, that the advent of e-learning has created many positive results with enormous potential for the future. It is equally clear, however, that employers need to utilise FE colleges to a greater extent if these results are to be fully exploited.
Maggie Roy is workforce