Most SMEs can’t afford high cost of e-learning

I disagree with Steve Dineen’s view that the slow take-up of e-learning in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is primarily due to the lack of sales effort in this sector (Personnel Today, 18 January).

Having worked in learning and development, with big and small businesses in different industry sectors for a fair number of years, I have not seen any substantive evidence to support this view.

Most of the research and evidence I have seen relating to the uptake of e-learning points to the fact that big businesses have more money to spend and, therefore, are more likely to attract e-learning suppliers and developers.

The cost of implementation is still too high for e-learning to make a noticeable impact in a business. Most smaller firms are unlikely to have enough surplus profit to plough into e-learning platforms or courseware.

We have yet to see the significant reduction in the cost of e-learning that would be associated with a maturing market. SMEs’ first real exposure to e-learning is likely to be through volume online course providers, where the brunt of the set-up costs are borne by the host.

It will be another two or three years before we see general e-learning costs reduce enough to make it viable for SMEs to make a reasonable investment in it.

Andy Hughes
Spirit Consulting Group

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