How Distance Learning benefits both Employee and Employer

Very few employers, or employees, for that matter, need any reminding that we’re living through economically challenging times.

For most, this means constantly paring costs down to a minimum.

Some forms of cost-cutting, however, can be counterproductive.  When staff are unable to further their interests and enhance their skills through training, they tend to become disenchanted and less committed.  Employers lose out too as the skills pool starts to stagnate, competiveness and efficiency decline, and business suffers.

How then can this circle be squared, when companies can neither afford the time nor the costs of training, and staff with full-time jobs and families to take care of, often cannot access training courses easily?  It’s difficult to drag yourself off to evening classes when you’ve got a full-time day job and a family to look after.  The spirit may be willing, but the flesh in need of a rest and an evening meal, which puts limits on most people’s stamina and enthusiasm.

The answer lies in distance learning, one solution where investment pays real dividends.  It needn’t necessarily involve financial funding from an employer.  Given the fact that distance learning is usually considerably less expensive than formal attendance at a campus-based course, this is often less of a problem anyway.  People like to learn and grow, and many employees are willing to stump up the funds themselves so that they can improve their knowledge and skills for their future employment prospects.

All they need is a little time and access to the internet.  Distance learning means that there’s no costly, time-consuming travelling and no fixed, scheduled lessons.  Online learning can be done in the comfort of the employee’s home, or at work during the odd lunch break.  All that’s needed is an internet connection, and maybe a cup of tea and a snack.

Many employers are more than happy to grant some time concessions to employees engaged in distance learning.  For the sake of a few hours a week, you’re getting a newly trained-up member of staff.  You can even ask for their assistance if something urgent crops up, which is something you couldn’t do if they were stuck in a lecture theatre in a distant town or city.

The range of courses and skills on offer is now immense, and provided you’ve taken care to select a properly validated course, you can be confident that your staff member will be acquiring industry-recognised and highly relevant vocational qualifications.  Provided the course is approved by the Open and Distance Learning Quality Council (ODL QC), you’re onto a safe bet.  This is the UK’s independent guardian of quality for distance learning courses.

The best thing is that people can begin the course they’ve chosen at any time – there’s no hanging around waiting for the start of an academic year.  You will get the skills and greater commitment from a more motivated staff member, and you don’t have to divert them from core tasks so that they can attend classes, which only the largest companies can easily accommodate.

It may not exactly amount to something for nothing, but distance learning does end up being a win-win option for employers and employees alike.


Paul Jones

Editor of Business Matters, the UKs largest business magazine, and head of Capital Business Media's automotive division working for clients such as Aston Martin and Infiniti.

Editor of Business Matters, the UKs largest business magazine, and head of Capital Business Media's automotive division working for clients such as Aston Martin and Infiniti.