Last updated: 07.12.11

HMRC 'leads government in e-learning solutions'

E-learning is a big part of the working and training practices of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), according to a new report which reveals that the virtual classroom is currently used in the financial arm of the government more than in any other department.

According to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO), HMRC encouraged more than 615,000 staff to take online training courses last year alone and spent an estimated total of £96 million between 2010 and 2011 to develop the skills of its workforce.

Although most of the training schemes were manual and face-to-face based, there was a "significant" use of e-learning resources to improve staff skills, the report showed.

Figures in the NAO's latest report signalled that HMRC offered staff 359 face-to-face courses, 723 e-learning courses and 955 manual based courses last year and that 54 per cent of staff have been able to access the online learning system at the point of need - suggesting that more must be done to improve the facilities.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: "At the level of the business as a whole, HMRC has no strategy to manage the £96 million it spends each year on skills. Although the department is doing much to make sure it has the skills it requires, it needs a more systematic approach, where spending on skills is linked explicitly to the organisation's overall business objectives and a vision of how it should look in the future."

More than three-quarters of companies are using e-learning to boost the management skills of their workforce, according to Towards Maturity, an organisation that helps companies implement virtual solutions into their working practices.

A study by the company published earlier this year found that 80 per cent of all businesses in the UK are using some form of online education - including video-based courses - to better their means of staff training.