The results of the first barometer on the use of e-learning in Europe*, conducted by CrossKnowledge, Fefaur and Ipsos, a leader in global market research, were presented today as part of the Learning Technologies conference in London. An unprecedented initiative, the results confirm the growing use of e-learning in the countries studied.
How is e-learning used across Europe today?
In the UK, Spain and Benelux nearly 40% of companies train more than 50% of their employees via e-learning. France lags behind at only 17%. e-Learning is most used within the services sector – 43% of service-based companies train more than 50 % of their employees via e-learning.
British companies, despite having used e-learning for less time than other countries, are quickly developing their application of e-learning: in 2011, 51% of companies delivered at least one training via e-learning to over 50% of their employees compared to 39% in 2010.
Size matters: large companies have been using e-learning the longest. 68% of the European sample of companies that use e-learning have a headcount of over 10,000.
Why are companies turning to e-learning?
The challenge of training large numbers of employees and the need to align competencies in real time over increasingly competitive global markets and economies of scale are some of the factors that motivated large companies to develop an interest in e-learning ahead of the rest.
Value for money
- The vast majority of companies surveyed spend less than 10% of their total training budget on e-learning.
- The main goal of e-leaning is training cost optimisation - delivering a consistent quality of training to large numbers of employees accounts for 37% of use.
Fields of application
- 75% of companies use e-learning to deliver training on core professional skills e.g. IT and desktop training, as well as Health and Safety or Compliance training which is often compulsory.
- In large companies there is a clear rise in themes such as management, leadership, communication and personal development. This trend is encouraged by the increasing use of competency development plans.
- Unsurprisingly, language training represents only a small part of the use of e-learning in the UK, however its use is much more significant throughout continental Europe led by Spain (60%), Benelux (43%), and followed by Italy (30%).
The study also underlines the link between the length of time that a company has been using e-learning and the sophistication of the modules and delivery methods that it makes available. In summary, the more a company puts e-learning into practice, the more they enlarge and generalise the offer of e-learning in all its forms.
The most popular delivery methods
For 76% of companies, the most popular delivery method for e-learning is Blended Learning. 47% already using this approach are planning to intensify usage.
e-Learning with no tutoring is the second most popular method (58%): this seems to fit well with the idea of providing 'just-in-time' training via e-learning and being able to adapt training to individual needs.
A question of quality
Even if e-learning is almost always introduced for operational reasons (cost optimisation, providing wider access to training), the eventual success of the training consistently depends on the quality of the training initiatives delivered. The quality of the e-learning content is certainly an issue, but it is not the only issue: what is also important is the training initiative as a whole, including the delivery method and other practical factors.
Similarly, the relevance of the course content to the needs of the business and the consideration of operational constraints both strongly affect in whether or not e-learning becomes accepted. Conversely, not considering these constraints (lack of time or availability) is seen as the main barrier.
The future of e-learning
The use of e-learning looks to increase in 2012. Given the economic climate, many companies are seeking to maintain or cut back their overall training budget, furthermore they are looking to reduce training cost per learner in order to be able to train a greater number of employees without increasing spending on training.
e-Learning is being rolled out to a growing circle of employees creating a boom effect. Between 2010 and 2012 the number of companies that train between 10% and 50% of their staff will grow from 30% to 45 % of the sample surveyed. Without a doubt, this is influenced by the widespread adoption of 2.0 technologies made popular by Generation Y which promote collaborative knowledge sharing and the exchange of best practices.
The results of the barometer confirm that e-learning has become a credible delivery method for all sizes of enterprise. Whether the company has less than 1,000 employees or between 1,000 and 10,000, the number of users is on the up.
This survey was carried out from 8 September to 7 October 2011 in 6 European countries: France, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. It was jointly produced by CrossKnowledge, Fēfaur and Ipsos, with support from the following professional associations: Learning and Skills Group (UK), AEDIPE (Spain) and AIDP (Italy). The survey was carried out via an online questionnaire which enabled CrossKnowledge to question 511 training directors and managers. 100% of the sample work for companies which have already put e-learning in place.
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The same survey is also available in French by clicking here