Missed online opportunities

Published:  07 January, 2008

Missed online opportunities

 

Senior managers across the engineering sector are missing easy opportunities to hone their skills, as they fail to make use of the online resources available to them.  Figures, published recently, show technological and cultural barriers have hindered widespread uptake of online learning in the sector, despite recognition of the business benefits it brings.

The findings, published by the Chartered Management Institute and Centre for Applied Human Resource Research, confirm that Internet access is readily available for the majority of senior managers (90%) in the engineering sector.  However, most (72%) admit they spend 30 minutes or less using company intranets, the Internet or e-learning materials to solve any one problem.  Only 51% have made use of online management resources in the past year and just 13% in the sector have participated in a structured e-learning programme.

The research, outlined in a report called 'Realising Value from Online Learning', is based on the views of 998 respondents. 
The most common goal employers had for introducing online-learning was to enable cost-effective, rapid and regular updates to employees.  A key driver in this process was the need for compliance training, with core topics including discrimination and health & safety.

Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management, says: "There are clear business benefits to adopting e-learning models, but until organisations provide engaging development tools and support alongside these, uptake will continue to be slow.  However, the integration of social networking with other online routes is likely to help this process, particularly as personal development will go beyond the boundaries of organisations.

Analysing the online methods used by seniority level shows that more junior managers use blogs, e-books, e-learning modules and social networking sites than higher level managers.  For example, 16 % of junior managers rely on blogs compared to 10 % of directors and more (40 % use e-learning modules than their senior counterparts (22 %).

Causon adds: "The results mean that those planning online learning need to carefully consider their audience.  Rather than rely on online learning for all, they should use it as an extra resource to traditional development programmes.  In the medium-term richer content will widen the use of e-learning, but only as part of a dual blended solution.

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