Last updated: 21.09.11

E-learning will help reduce skills shortage, claim professionals

The skills shortage will be solved through e-learning, a survey of learning and development professionals has indicated.

According to the study, which sampled 180 practitioners and their opinions on the future of e-learning, the current primary use of the technology among businesses lies in the accommodation of remote or flexible working.

Ensuring compliance with industry regulations and the issue of rolling out new IT systems and processes come a respective second and third in terms of how e-learning is used.

However, the study claimed providers of the technology believe the skills shortage is the likeliest area of growth in the future as employers see online training as the solution. As such, plugging the gap in expertise and experience represents the biggest, but achievable, challenge to e-learning providers, so long as fellow procurers begin to make the necessary changes now, the survey revealed.

Run jointly by Redtray and benchmarking organisation Towards Maturity, the study underlined opinions expressed by Leanne Doohan, a commentator on online learning initiatives for the public and voluntary sector. Speaking to Guardian Professional, Ms Doohan claimed the benefits of using e-learning to enhance continued professional development are wide-ranging.

"Training can be delivered in a much more cost effective way with both travel expenses and time away from the office reduced," she said.

"Organisations can as well give new staff and volunteers immediate training without having to wait for a classroom to become available," Ms Doohan added.

She also conceded that virtual learning does not always have all the answers. However, the notion that online training can cut down training times reflected many of the priorities of businesses, the Towards Maturity survey highlighted.

In a separate study of 600 international companies involved in the learning and development of staff, Towards Maturity revealed that distance learning courses provided through virtual technology and the internet account for 89 per cent of the top technologies used by companies.