Why eLearning is here to stay
Many employers and training providers adopted eLearning out of necessity during the pandemic. Here, Laura Nelson, Managing Director for RTITB, explains the ongoing benefits it can offer for businesses operating in the supply chain, and why ‘face to face’ workplace transport training will continue to play a vital role.
Even as we tentatively begin the return to “normal”, the online learning industry is not showing any signs of slowing down. The world is adapting to new ways of working and training, and eLearning, as opposed to face-to-face learning and classroom-based training, is one of them.
eLearning had clear advantages during the pandemic, enabling training to continue during lockdowns, and helping reduce infection risk by keeping personal contact to an absolute minimum. In fact, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) specifically suggested eLearning as a solution for reducing infection risk around lift truck training. Yet other benefits are encouraging businesses to continue to transform their approach to training with eLearning for the long term.
Recent research suggests that 62% of organisations affected by changes due to COVID-19 stated that they will invest more in training in 2021, and the global eLearning market is forecast to reach over $370 billion by 2026, rising exponentially from $101 billion in 2019*.
Self-paced learning to suit the individual
Ongoing learning and development has become an expectation, not a perk, for countless individuals. Many employees prefer learning online, with research showing that 95%* cite individual learning pace as the reason, and 84% prefer the minimised travelling*. Training takes time, so eLearning is often an attractive option that can slot easily around work commitments. It can take the same training content, but make it more ‘bitesize’, taking place more regularly, with fewer and shorter intervals between, while still ensuring that candidates are suitably qualified, just like with a face-to-face course.
One of the biggest drivers of eLearning adoption is that employees like it! Those who would choose eLearning over classroom-based learning often prefer that that they can complete the training at their own pace*.
This is no surprise, as in a classroom full of learners some may be quicker than others. This makes it challenging to keep everybody engaged and working at the same pace. Conversely, with eLearning each individual can complete the material at their own speed and to their own schedule. This can help to keep them motivated and it relieves some pressure for those who feel they might need a little more time to take in and process the information.
The “little and often” approach to the delivery of the training, combined with learning at a comfortable pace for the individual, can also help when it comes to retaining new knowledge. Some learners excel in a classroom, but others find it difficult to remember everything they have learned after studying several modules during a two-day training course, for example. Often, learning little by little can help the information to stick.
However, when planning training, it is important to remember who your learners are and to consider how they like to receive information. Statistics** show that although 84% of UK adults own a smartphone, 44% of employees in the logistics industry are 45+ and may prefer traditional classroom-based, learning. Implementing eLearning with any age group is still possible, but employers must consider additional support that may be required while users adjust to new technologies.
Going online saves time
Although training is essential for ensuring safety within the supply chain, it can feel like an added pressure in an already time-sensitive industry.
This is completely understandable. Within workplace transport training, some courses may run over a full working week, taking people away from home to a hotel for days, or requiring a long drive at the start and end of the day. Reducing course durations, or removing the need to travel completely, helps ensure that training doesn’t impact work-life balance more than it needs to. And, of course, there is a significant cost benefit for the employer, as well as a carbon footprint reduction.
We have also found with RTITB eLearning that employers like that their team can complete training to fit around their shifts – for instance, doing a course on their off-shift days so no operational time is lost. Moreover, it is flexible, so we even see businesses implementing eLearning for their employees during breaks or at home to prevent any impact on the working day.
When training is more easily accommodated in an employee’s schedule, this can also improve their attitude towards it making it seem less like an inconvenience or a hassle, and more like the beneficial experience it really is.
A big motivator for training is always safety, and this is another area where eLearning plays a key role. By far the greatest benefit of eLearning for supply chain businesses is that it equips employees with the skills and knowledge required to do their job safely, including the operation of materials handling equipment. This minimises the risk of incident and injury, while also ensuring compliance with relevant regulations.
For businesses using temporary or contract staff, they will also find that eLearning provides a quick way to deliver refresher training when time is limited and operators are in demand. This helps keep operations moving, with safety and compliance, through seasonal peaks, for instance.
However, let’s not forget that not all training can be carried out online and eLearning must never be used to cut corners. For example, when it comes to a novice learning to operate a piece of equipment like a lift truck, a practical element with a skilled, qualified Instructor will also be necessary.
However, what eLearning can do is reduce the amount of time that a candidate needs to spend in a training centre. RTITB’s eTruck novice forklift operator theory course, for instance, enables the theory part to be completed before the practical, saving an Instructor two days that would otherwise be spent in a classroom. This time can then be made best use of with practical training.
Likewise, when using the eTruck Refresher lift truck operator course, an Instructor can train three candidates in the time it would otherwise take them to train one. eLearning brings clear benefits to the bottom line, without compromising on standards, and without putting Instructors out of a job!
Additional business impacts
While structured, one-off, and periodic, formal, or face-to-face learning continues to be the preferred option for some businesses, there are others that find that they and their staff need to keep up with a more technology focused world. Also, after introducing eLearning to their workplace, research* found that 42% of organisations have experienced an increase in income.
What’s more, giving employees more convenient access to regular, high-quality training via eLearning, can help businesses to maximise productivity, and enhance employee satisfaction. Training shows employees they are valued and important to the operation.
To get started, training providers and in-house training teams can now offer RTITB’s latest eLearning courses. This includes forklift, plant, and LGV banksman/yardshunter theory training, as well as eLearning courses for manual handing, and training for Managers and Supervisors of lift truck operations.
*Growth Engineering – https://www.growthengineering.co.uk/55-online-learning-statistics/