A real solution to a real problem.
The virtual classroom or online tuition, reflective of the progress made as a result of the ongoing convergence of technology and education, has emerged as an effective and plausible means of addressing skills shortages.
This is the view of Teryl Schroenn, CEO at Accsys, who advocates eLearning as the most credible answer to the urgent requirement for skills across various industries. Despite pressure on local markets as a result of the global credit crunch and the challenge of availability of resources, skills development remains a priority for decision makers and employees alike.
“Companies appear to see the virtual classroom as an effective training alternative, and that the outcome of this process is, at the very least, as good as that which would be received in a classroom. There is certainly an increase in interest and investment in eLearning, for example, Microsoft offers eLearning on most of its software and we continue to witness the emergence of Indian companies that develop standardised eLearning products. At the same time employees are clear about the practical advantages associated with eLearning, including saving on time and being in a position to study whilst being employed,” says Schroenn.
Putting the economic downturn aside, people in the workplace continue to face additional pressures of keeping to deadlines and guaranteeing deliverables. The result is that they have less time available for studies.
“The advantages of being able to study online are being able to save the time of having to travel to training venues (usually in peak traffic which takes longer), as well as being able to learn and study in your own time,” adds Schroenn. While the course may compare Rand for Rand with a university diploma, the fact that the student can save on time and travel costs makes a considerable difference to the total cost of the course.”
According to Schroenn the role of companies in helping to entrench and apply skills development is critical. However, interaction between companies and regulatory bodies, such as the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA), as well as adherence to standards, processes and procedures set by these bodies, remains one of the industry’s biggest challenges.
“The concept of these regulatory bodies is excellent, but breaking new ground is always a long affair, and we have not found it easy to bring matters to conclusion, there are too many stop/start actions along the way,” says Schroenn.
While the situation is far from ideal and more work needs to be done, eLearning is beginning to make a real difference in efforts to address skills shortages.
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