At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 3.9 billion people – half of the world’s population – were told by their respective governments to stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus. This hit businesses hard, with many being forced to either close their doors entirely or switch to a work-from-home model. For numerous businesses, switching to work-from-home wasn’t viable, leaving thousands globally without work or – at times – income.

This hiatus caused by the pandemic has, for many industries, resulted in a need to reskill – or for those not able to return to their previous position, to retrain. In this blog, we examine the growth in online training courses and share our top tips on what users should be aware of when making use of this fast-growing sector.

Surge in online training providers

The recent pandemic was the catalyst that triggered a significant move to digital learning. In the summer of 2020, CIPD research found that 54% of the UK-based employers surveyed had used digital and online learning during lockdown. The results were overwhelmingly positive, with 80% planning to increase use of digital learning over the next 12 months.

The growth in the e-learning industry saw it exceed £180 billion in value in 2020 with compound annual growth of 21% expected between 2021 and 2027. But is online learning actually as effective as learning delivered face-to-face?

How effective is digital learning?

The Covid-19 pandemic has driven a more rapid and far more widespread shift to digital learning, brought on by the urgent need for new forms of training and support. Research by CIPD found good-quality digital learning to be just as effective as traditional in-person/classroom learning in terms of the learning outcomes achieved. However, the research also highlighted that those with ‘weak academic preparation and from low-income and under-represented backgrounds’ can underperform and experience poorer outcomes in online learning environments.

This has highlighted a digital divide, with figures showing that 42 percent of the EU population are now at risk of digital exclusion. Digital exclusion is a multifaceted problem involving several issues such as skills, money motivation, disability and confidence. Businesses need to be mindful of this when switching over to digital learning providers.

Top tips when researching online training providers

Here are our 4 top tips to consider when looking at online training providers:

  • Track record
    Research the company. Who have they worked with? How recently? Will they understand the culture of your business? Working with training providers who understand your business and its culture is vital. If they work globally, is the content localised for each market? Do they provide qualifications?
  • Relationship
    Does the company provide a personal touch? Are they willing to go the extra mile for you? It’s vital to work with training providers you can trust.
  • Finances
    Perform due diligence on the organisation. Review its financial history. If you have concerns about the provider’s financial standing, then reduce risk by negotiating payment after the event.
  • Industry know-how
    How much knowledge does the trainer or training provider have in the subject they are training your staff in? Be sure to work with training providers who specialise in the training you are looking for.

How does this affect face-to-face training?

Does this mean that face-to-face training will become a thing of the past? Research by TrainingZone indicates that this is unlikely. Most organisations plan to blend online and face-to-face training moving forwards. Face-to-face training is likely to concentrate on practical, hands-on, technical skills or other skills where in-person demonstration is needed.

Support available from Albion Languages

Times of crisis always generate opportunities. The 2003 SARS crisis, for example, contributed to the rise in China’s extensive e-commerce market. Covid-19 seems to have provided a similar springboard for online training providers.

The IMF is predicting global growth of 5.2% in 2021 –primarily driven by emerging markets such as India and China, both of which are forecast to grow by 8.8% and 8.2%, respectively. It is important that your employees are prepared to hit the ground running as the global marketplace starts to find its feet.

Our experts work with e-learning providers on a consultative basis, providing guidance and support. If you would like to roll out training courses into new international markets, we can assist with full localisation, including advice on what cultural and language changes are needed. We can also help in international market research, enabling you to capitalise on new country trends. To find out more and speak to a member of our team, please contact our experts.