Students looking to get their first step on the career ladder can give themselves a leg up with e-learning. Two of the UK’s biggest accounting firms have found that skills in communication and teamwork can be a struggle for graduates who were at university during long periods of lockdown. Online courses can help current students tackle similar problems, making it easier to land their first job.
Deloitte and PwC have found that younger recruits are sometimes falling short in interpersonal skills due to the disruption they endured during covid restrictions. Anyone currently at university will also have faced similar interruptions to face-to-face learning.
Students concerned about their own communication skills may find that online learning can help them get up to speed.
What is e-learning?
E-learning involves studying skills through an online course that may include notes, videos, lessons, and tips. By working on your own, when you want, where you want, you can quickly pick up professional skills in a way that works best for you.
While organisations provide bespoke face-to-face and/or virtual training for their people, individuals looking for similar help can get a cost-effective alternative by downloading a high-calibre e-learning course. Some courses, such as Learnflix, even let you track your progress and keep a record of your performance, giving you tangible evidence that you can give to an employer.
How do I access an e-learning course?
Start by thinking about which skills will help you most. You might feel concerned about your confidence and self-esteem, or perhaps you’re looking for help with time management, or personal effectiveness and wellbeing.
Free online courses are of varying quality. For e-learning content that is effective, reliable, and expertly curated you should expect to pay a cost, though this can be relatively low.
The best thing is to look for a deal – for example a group of relevant courses bundled together and sold as a special offer. The right deal can give you world-class material packaged up in bite-size chunks.
What are the benefits of e-learning?
The popularity of e-learning inevitably increased during the pandemic. In 2021, 27% of people aged 16 to 74 in the EU took an online course or used online learning material. This number later dropped back, (to 26% a year on), nevertheless interest in e-learning in Europe has remained higher than it was before the pandemic (eg, 23% in 2020).
It’s a similar story elsewhere. Research by Global Market Insights suggests the global e-learning market surpassed $315 billion in 2021, driven by growing internet penetration and upgraded training programs. The attractions of e-learning include:
- Quicker route to knowledge retention: E-learning is generally shorter than classroom learning. A focused approach delivered in bitesize modules makes it easier to recall learned information
- Flexibility: The flexibility of e-learning makes it easier to fit into a busy schedule. Continue your chosen course when you have the time, space and mindset to absorb what you’re studying.
- Motivational: Online learning allows continuous development and upskilling. As a ladder to bigger and better things, it can help you meet short-term objectives and long-term professional development goals.
- Suits different learning styles: E-learning takes place at a pace that works best for you. An online course is ideal for independent learners who work better under their own guidance.
Types of e-learning
There are many forms of e-learning, most of them relating to ways of managing a large group of learners – typically employees – who might study alone or together, at the same time or independently.
Other alternatives allow users to interact with a course, learning through quizzes and other formats that require active participation. This is known as computer-assisted instruction (CAI). This is different to computer-managed learning (CML), where software sifts through a large database and selects relevant information according to the preferences of the user.
However, for individuals working alone most e-learning courses are of the ‘fixed’ variety. Offering the same content to whoever signs up to them, the material does not change from its original state.
Challenges of e-learning
How effective is e-learning? How long do learners typically retain information? While the ‘stickiness’ factor of e-learning is hard to determine, it has been suggested that students retain 82% of the information they learn.
E-learning can feel isolating, particularly if you’re studying a course on your own initiative. Students picking an online course will likely be working alone. While this might suit some, others will need to avoid drifting towards tab surfing and cleaning out their inbox. Still, online courses are short and to the point, and you can always return to anything you miss.
Tips for successful e-learning
Before taking a look at available courses, best to start by looking at your own strengths and weaknesses. What is it that you need help with? Is an online course the best solution?
If it’s worth investing in, it’s worth committing to. Decide on clear objectives, and create a learning schedule that will help you meet them.
It’s important to complete the course, including any assessments at the end. Even if you have no intention of telling anyone else about your progress, you’ll be able to better retain the things you have learned by focusing on any summaries and conclusions that bring everything together.
Useful e-learning skills for students
Which skills should students be thinking about if they are graduating this year or next? The other way of looking at this is to think about the skills that employers need. Deloitte and PwC, along with competitors EY and KPMG, offer extensive recruitment schemes that between them hire thousands of graduates each year.
Ian Elliott, chief people officer at PwC UK said: “It’s wholly understandable that students who missed out on face-to-face activities during Covid may now be stronger in certain fields, such as working independently, and less confident in others, such as presentations to groups. It’s something we’re noticing but recent joiners are also telling us themselves. They’re keen for more support.”
PwC is encouraging senior partners and directors to find moments every day when they can do more to include junior staff. Meanwhile, managers have been coaching junior colleagues in communication and teamwork. Initial trials have proved successful and are set to be rolled out to other parts of the business.
As difficult as Covid was, Generation Z’s problems with communication skills might stem from other causes too. Relationships played out through social media for example don’t need skills in eye contact, body language, presence, or conversation.
Running counter to this, a workplace mindset driven by proactive human communication relies on a core set of interpersonal skills. Without them, individuals can easily feel isolated and excluded. E-learning is a quick solution that can help.
E-learning with Learnflix
At Working Voices, our world-class trainers have produced and presented more than 1,000 short videos for the 50+ courses that form Learnflix, our comprehensive e-learning platform.
We will soon be offering students a bundle of courses that will give you a great head start in landing your dream job. These will focus on skills in confidence, self-esteem, communication, self-management, and teamwork, the kind of things that employers are looking for.
Potential employers don’t need to know about concerns you might have privately felt about confident communication at work. You can tackle these in your own time by developing the skills you need – so that when you do eventually find your first job you’ll be able to settle in quickly and get down to showing other people the talent you possess.