If you want to keep your technical and business skills razor-sharp, education and ongoing training and development are critical, but continuing education doesn't mean you have to go back to school.
Over the last few years, e-learning and online skills development technology have broadened their appeal, sharpened their focus and become accessible to almost anyone with a laptop, smartphone or tablet.
"We've seen phenomenal growth over the last four years or so from the market and from our corporate clients, too," says Nate Kimmons, vice president of Enterprise Marketing at e-learning service provider Lynda.com.
E-learning Bridges the IT Talent Gap
As the talent shortage intensifies in the IT industry, businesses are looking for cost-effective, proven methods to add important skills to their workforce without hiring additional staff.
"E-learning has exploded, and we are seeing more companies investing in corporate development and skills training for their existing workforce," Kimmons says.
Adoption and buy-in for online and e-learning systems are often driven into the enterprises by employees themselves, says Kimmons. Enterprises, in general, are slow to adopt new technologies and even slower to offer standardized solutions to keep their workforce up-to-speed because of the high cost of traditional training and the associated productivity loss when employees must attend training sessions, he says.
That's absolutely understandable, Kimmons adds, but with e-learning solutions, any employee with a laptop, mobile device or smartphone can easily access and complete training and skills courses in a way that's cost-efficient and accessible anytime, anywhere.
BYOE — Bring-Your-Own Education
"Just think of how much money corporations spend to send teams to off-sites — meetings and trainings," Kimmons says. "Not only are you paying for plane tickets, hotels, food, expenses like that, you can't be sure that everyone's leaving with the same level of knowledge," he says.
"Each person's learning paths are different, and everyone's got a different baseline, too, so one of the great things about e-learning is the ability to incorporate various learning styles and each person can jump in based on their current level of knowledge," Kimmons says.
"From the worker's side, this often starts as a BYO scenario, where the employee is looking for professional development to either improve skills they already have or add skills to help them land another job or a promotion," he says.
But once the content is introduced, Kimmons says, employees often use the system to learn skills and take courses that are relevant to their personal interests, too, he says, and with a library of about 2,000 courses spanning 10 categories, both business-related and personal, there's something for almost everyone, he says.
Education as a Benefit and a Retention Tool
Kimmons says enterprises that offer e-learning opportunities as part of their overall benefits package are finding it to be a valuable retention tool. Because the scope of e-learning is so vast, he says, employees learn not only technical, engineering and hard skills, but also soft skills that can translate to better leadership, better management and a more engaged and loyal workforce.
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