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E-learning's contribution to workforce development

Prepared by the University of Sydney's Workplace Research Centre, the 2013 research report on E-learning's contribution to workforce development examines the evolving of e-learning to workforce development and productivity.

The research applied the matrix model developed from the 2011 research "Enabling workforce development: Insights from industries using e-learning" and focused on evidence-based in-depth case studies regarding e-learning's contribution to workforce development across:

  1. Aged care and community services
  2. Renewable energy
  3. Glass and glazing manufacturing

The research assessed the factors in the matrix to determine whether they are still major issues in workplaces, or whether there are other factors presenting greater hindrances to the uptake of training. This matrix identifies the type of critical workforce development challenges e-learning can help overcome. This is analysed at three levels of economic activity: individual, workplace and industry.

Refined training matrix - the role of e-learning
    Economic activity





Work intensification

Form of employment

Literacy & learning challenges

Computer access


Workplace size




Industry structure


Supportive environment

Awareness of training

Career paths


Cost benefits


Type of training

Job design

Quality assurance

Skill shortages

Labour shortages

Industry champion


Past learning experiences

Learning types

Learning pathways

Past experiences


Pre-existing model


The refined matrix helps to identify areas in which e-learning can promote skills growth. These factors are grouped into three categories:

  1. Access refers to particular characteristics which can result in ease or difficulty receiving or providing training.
  2. Motivation refers to the drivers that impel training, or may instead discourage the uptake of training.
  3. Experience refers to previous encounters, as well as knowledge and expertise which can facilitate participation in, or distribution of, training.

The report highlights that e-learning and its use is evolving and can contribute to the following additional areas:

  • Improving access to training
  • Improving the motivation to engage with training
  • The flexibility of accessing e-learning can improve experiences of learning
  • The benefits and impacts of e-learning relate to learning design and support

The research uncovered instances of e-learning contributing to workplace productivity:

  • Direct impacts involving less disruption of work, and deeper learning
  • Indirect impacts, of greater confidence with technology and faster integration of technology into work processes

This research explores the use of e-learning in industry sectors supported by the National VET E-learning Strategy’s Industry System Change business activity predominantly in 2012-13.

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