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Online learning to build employee skills

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Globally the world is moving towards more web-based digital learning and yet in South Africa companies are lagging behind in terms of human capital growth and upskilling their staff.
The 2017 Human Capital Trends Report for South Africa by Deloitte has found that only 28% of organisations are helping employees build their skills. It also noted in this years’ report that careers and learning rose to second place globally in rated importance with 83% of executives identifying this issue as very important.
“Corporates need to take a greater responsibility for skills development and ensure more substantial investment into skills development and their people,” says Theuns Botha, corporate sales manager of leading online education company GetSmarter. “In a changing world, where companies are under pressure to be output and return driven, they should focus on optimising their results and company culture by recruiting the right employees, supporting training and motivating them to achieve those goals.
“What we often find is that corporates are more concerned with developing their staff for compliance rather than productivity as an efficient and effective workforce,” he says.
“When an employee is chosen to do an online course from a top tier university they feel motivated and recognised by their company — a powerful combination which leads to people helping drive their organisation,” he adds. “And, retention of great staff is better than an aggressive recruiting strategy to replace staff.”
Botha says the fact that Deloitte’s report showed 28% of organisations are helping employees build their skills shows an imbalance between HR and leadership and development. “Traditional HR is very admin orientated and this detracts from the development of staff,” he explains. “Time is also the other challenge, companies are under pressure to produce results and this pressure is often transferred onto employees, the drawback of this is that more time gets allocated to operational activities and less on longer term human capital investment.”
He adds: “In our experience, through GetSmarter’s Enterprise Solutions, we are seeing a trend where innovation divisions within companies are picking up the reins and leading the charge on educating and developing their employees within their departments more so than in human resource divisions.”
At the same time, he notes, corporates are not investing enough in their people because of staff turnover and losing newly educated individuals. “The costs associated with the investment into skills development is an obstacle because many businesses struggle to see the long-term value and the return on investment for education.
“In short, there is a lack of understanding about people mediated online learning.”
Botha adds: “The benefits of online learning far outweigh the barriers when it comes to investing in human capital because online learning does not disrupt the day-to-day operations of a company, it offers a level of flexibility, and courses like the ones we offer that are practical enough in nature that the knowledge gained can be implemented by employees while they are working and doing the course.”