June 7, 2021
When it comes to career development, flexibility, one-to-one support and financial benefits, distance learning courses are becoming an increasingly popular option for businesses looking to upskill their employees, especially following the difficulties and challenges faced over the past year.
Distance learning, often known as online learning, is an innovative approach to completing a qualification designed to be flexible so it fits around work and personal commitments.
Learners are provided with study materials via post or online, a virtual learning environment, a dedicated tutor and more, with many distance learning courses recognised by professional bodies and programmes designed to help learners succeed in their current roles and future careers.
A study by the Open University (OU) in 2020 found that as many as five million employees expect the COVID-19 pandemic to change the skills required for their job roles, as industries and organisations adapt to a ‘new normal’ way of working.
According to OU, the country has seen a rise in distance learning, with 24 per cent of employees taking on additional learning opportunities, such as courses to improve their digital skills, which are crucial to working productively while at home.
Harnessing the enthusiasm for distance learning is an opportunity to enhance the skills of workforces, but it also brings real, lasting benefits to businesses who are not just looking to survive this ‘new normal’ but thrive in it too.
Few would disagree that staff are an organisation’s most valuable asset, and investing in their personal development increases employee engagement, motivation and satisfaction in the workplace, giving them a greater sense of value and purpose.
But keeping individual and professional skills up to date in a fast-paced world can be difficult.
With distance learning, staff can gain a new qualification with minimal disruption to the workplace by fitting their studies around existing responsibilities, allowing people to maintain a healthy work-life balance, which is a strong selling point for many employees.
At a time when training budgets are under increased pressure, distance learning courses remove costs associated with travel to and from external training courses and in-house delivery, with many available with zero cost so businesses can train a whole team or department with minimum cost.
With courses ranging from business administration, digital skills, accounting, team leading and business improvement, to health and safety, equality and diversity and mental health awareness – which can be applied across any industry or sector – Education Partnership North East has committed to supporting employers across the region through the current health crisis and beyond.
Ellen Thinnesen, Education Partnership North East chief executive, says: “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people learn, and as one of the largest college groups in the country, we have an important role to play in helping the business community recover.
“Our distance learning offer is leading the way in upskilling employees, supporting economic growth during this challenging time, and offering relevant structured training at a time when training budgets are under immense pressure.”
With courses broken down into bitesize modules, employees can instantly apply what they have learned on the job and implement the latest industry strategies and creative ideas, which will have an immediate impact and keep businesses current.
Sharon Appleby, head of business operations at Sunderland Business Improvement District, adds: “The distance learning courses provided by Education Partnership North East are a brilliant opportunity to upskill staff to ensure businesses are ready for what the future holds.
“Things are changing quickly, and the opportunity to gain new knowledge and skills via distance learning could help transform businesses and secure their futures.”