As the economy recovers, what role will e-learning play?
Like many sectors, the economic downturn from 2008 onwards has had a significant impact upon the Learning, Development and Training market; budgets were squeezed very hard by companies and both local and national government.
This has powered change in attitudes towards e-learning in the last 4 years, with many larger organisations turning towards e-learning to drive down costs, especially around compliance training.
In many ways, the downturn proved beneficial for e-learning providers that could offer value propositions that demonstrated cost savings in both “financial” terms and "time saved" terms.
We also saw a change in attitude towards procuring large Learning Management Systems (LMSs). We know that the installation of enterprise LMSs slowed markedly in 2009 through to 2012 as organisations elected not to invest large sums of money in uncertain times. The tired LMS is now a reality in many organisations.
As 'training spend' is a form of investment it is a good lead indicator of economic sentiment: usually it is one of the first budgets to suffer cuts. Conversely, companies only start to invest in improving their employees' skill sets once they see the light of a recovery on the horizon.
We have no doubt the economic upturn that is emerging will see a further stimulus in the use of e-learning and learning technologies, and not a return to previous wasteful training practices, as the value proposition of e-learning is now hard coded into many organisations' DNA. In short, managers have become used to training budgets delivering more and as a training company we have witnessed this first hand: seeing a 30% year-on-year growth, registering over 1,000 learners a day and expanding our own workforce as a result.
In our view the demand for the fully supported and integrated learning service (combining the Learning Management System with learner support and appropriate e-learning content) is leading growth in the training sector. Indeed in an earlier blog we predicted that market growth will continue strongly in the sector.
The academy model is one very successful example of the fully integrated approach developed here. Each academy is designed to allow several similar organisations, such as Local Authorities or Housing Associations, to benefit from a fully managed and hosted training solution, whilst also guiding the development of industry-specific content.
In summary, we do not believe that improved economic times will alter the e-learning trajectory, but simply that we are looking forward to replacing many ‘tired LMSs’ and providing our services to many more organisations in the near future.