Given its current growth rate, every food or drink manufacturer is likely to be using some form of e-learning tool as soon as five years from now, said Rod Knox, chief executive of Virtual College.
Knox was addressing delegates on the Retailer Hub stage at Foodex, held at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre last month.
He said much of the drive would be from the government, which is aiming to ensure 50% of all qualifications carry some e-learning element by 2018.
According to Knox, manufacturers should embrace e-learning because it offered a number of benefits.
‘Specific individual needs’
“E-learning courses can be tailored to specific individual needs, and staff can access them at any time of the day.
“The software is part of a learning management system, which is a great way to monitor staff progress and find out who is lacking in specific areas.”
From the employer’s perspective, e-learning tools can encompass all areas of staff development, he claimed.
“You can do a training needs analysis for individuals, and work out a development plan. Then, you can offer assessments into those training needs and, finally, an appraisal process.
“So you’re going round in a continuous loop, and the technology allows you to address all parts of that jigsaw.”
E-learning courses were also suitable for maintaining good factory practices, he added.
“Typically with product equipment, someone will come in and install it, and only a few members of staff are left knowing how all the features work.
“E-learning courses can add a new dimension to that by providing refresher training for existing staff and new training for joiners.”
Virtual College recently announced a tie up with William Reed – publisher of Food Manufacture – to provide e-learning courses to the food and drink sector.
The new training body, Appetite Learning, offers accreditation courses in areas such as: food safety and hygiene; food allergy awareness; training on the EU’s hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) requirements; and food and fire training.
Knox said: “Appetite Learning is a great pulling together of a technology-delivered route to help businesses move forward.”
“Virtual College launched the UK’s first food hygiene certificate back in 2000. Three years ago, we had 1M online users, and recently we reached 2M. That’s a rate of 1,000 new learners a day coming on board,
“We have an ambition to get to 20M learners by 2020.”
Click here to find out more about Appetite Learning.