This survey was undertaken by the Ontario Society for Training & Development
(OSTD) to obtain a better understanding of what the advent of the Internet, e-business and e-learning have meant for small- and medium-sized (SMEs) private sector firms engaged in the delivery of education and training
services in Canada.
Forty-five per cent of respondents indicated that their organizations sold
e-learning products and services and 53 per cent reported receiving more than 50 per cent of their gross revenues from the sale of these products and services indicating that these firms are mainly to exclusively involved in offering e-learning products and services. This represents about 24 per cent of the firms responding.
Sixty-eight percent of the organizations involved in e-learning classified themselves as learning content providers while the remaining 32 per cent were divided evenly between learning services and learning infrastructure solutions with 16 per cent each.
The top three reasons / benefits reported for offering e-learning products and
services were: market for e-learning has strong projected growth: to reach / attract new customers; and, for improved revenue / more sales.
For adopters of e-learning, the top two actual barriers are cost of developing e-learning and need to retrain / hire staff. Eighty-eight percent of non-adopters perceive the cost of developing e-learning products / services as the greatest barrier to becoming involved in e-learning. Other barriers perceived as important by some 50 per cent of respondents include: lack of in-house expertise; prefer to maintain current products / services; and, lack of obvious market opportunities.
Sixty-eight percent of those responding had no immediate plans to increase or develop their e-learning capabilities.
Initiatives to Stimulate Investment and Capacity Building Of available programs for assisting business, only MERX and Strategis were known to a majority of respondents and only 35 per cent of respondents have actually participated in / benefited from MERX and only 20 per cent have used Strategis.
Initiatives selected by respondents as most likely to stimulate investment and building capacity by Canadian commercial education and training firms were: program(s) to subsidize employee training / retraining; a Canadian commercial education and training sector online portal; a Canada-wide industry association; better access to capital; and, a national broadband connectivity / infrastructure program.
Conclusions and Recommendations
It is rather startling that 76 per cent of the education and training firms responding to this survey have no immediate plans to develop / enhance their e-business capabilities and 68 per cent have no current plans to develop / enhance their e-learning capabilities. This is an obvious challenge that must be addressed by initiatives aimed at increasing awareness and building capacity for this sector.
It is recommended that the Canadian Society for Training & Development
(CSTD) take a leadership role, in cooperation with Industry Canada and other stakeholders, in finding ways to advance the implementation of the following initiatives in the Canadian private sector educational services (PSES) sector:
•program(s) to subsidize employee training / retraining;
•a Canadian commercial education and training sector online portal;
•a Canada-wide industry association;
•better access to capital; and,
•a national broadband connectivity / infrastructure program.
It is recommended that a series of firm-level case studies of e-business and e-learning adopters be conducted as a follow-up to this survey to provide a more in-depth look at some of the key findings with a view to determining how to encourage more PSES firms to adopt e-business and e-learning solutions.