Asda and Marconi deals highlight growing popularity of e-learning

Last month telecoms company Marconi announced it would be using e-learning to train 3,000 of its staff, and supermarket chain...

Under a three-year deal, for an undisclosed sum, Marconi will use software from Skillsoft to train staff across its business. The company aims to increase the proportion of staff using e-learning from 5% under the previous in-house system to 25% under the new system by the end of the year. Online courses aimed at Marconi's IT staff include software development, operating systems, servers, and internet technology. Staff will access the e-learning software from the company's intranet and have the facility to e-mail queries to Skillsoft and receive a response 24 hours a day. Neil Grant, head of learning strategy at Marconi, said, "People need to learn more in real time, so when you have a hot topic you can access the e-learning software rather than scheduling a training course." Meanwhile, Asda plans to use e-learning courses from NETg as a way of supplementing traditional classroom-based training. The courses will be aimed at both IT staff and end-users "With increasing time constraints on employees and with diverse job roles to cater for, classroom-based training is not always the most effective medium for transferring skills," said Maggie Kotek, Asda's people development manager. The courses on offer include business and professional development skills, Microsoft Office courses, the European computer driving licence, and Java programming. The market for IT training has shrunk over the past three years but e-learning - generally defined as training via an internet browser - has continued to grow. In 2002, UK companies spent 11% of their total training budgets on e-learning, up from 9% in 2001, according to the IT Skills Research Programme. Most analysts believe the growth in e-learning will continue. A key attraction is the potential to save money. E-learning can provide 30% more training content in 40% less time and at 33% of the cost of traditional techniques, according to Meta Group. Last month telecoms company Marconi announced it would be using e-learning to train 3,000 of its staff, and supermarket chain Asda signed a contract to provide 1,800 staff at its Leeds headquarters with e-learning courses. The deals illustrate how e-learning is continuing to grow despite the downturn in the IT training market.

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