Incorporating Online Learning Into your 2020 Workplace Skills Plans

In this article we explore Workplace Skills Plans (WSP) and why they are important as well as discussing the advantages of adding online accredited learning to your plan.

The purpose of a WSP is to identify and document the current and future skills needs in your business and will describe all the initiatives you are planning to undertake to fulfil those needs in the coming year.

A well developed WSP that is linked to your overall business strategy will benefit your organisation significantly and when executed, will drive skills development, B-BBEE points and more importantly the performance of individuals and the company as a whole.

It is crucial to submit your WSP and Annual Training Report (ATR) to obtain grants from your SETA to use for training employees and is also required from a B-BBEE scorecard perspective.

In order for a company to receive points on the B-BBEE Skills Development Element scorecard the following criteria must be fulfilled:

  • SETA approved WSP, an Annual Training Report and a Pivotal Report; and
  • Implementation of Priority Skills programme generally, and more specifically, for black people.

Companies that do not have all the above information in order at the time of their B-BBEE audit will not be able to attain any of the Skills Development Element points on their scorecard.

WSP and Online Accredited Learning

To what extent will digital and online learning be featuring in the implementation of your WSP for the coming year?

I have had a number of discussions with clients in the last couple of weeks where they have expressed their struggle with classroom training. Not only are they concerned given the constraints of the lockdown but feel that face-to-face training may just not be feasible in the foreseeable future at all.

Many of these clients have embraced online learning and have seen the benefits thereof in the past and have confirmed that this mode of learning will be at the heart of their training delivery in the coming year.

Balancing the demands of the regulatory environment, unions, business and staff is not easy. Many organisations believe that only face to face training interventions can be recognised as Category B, C or D courses within the B-BBEE Skills Development Element. This means that to maximise their training spend only out-of-office training is done, with Learnerships and the other credit bearing short courses being the preferred options.

Out-of-office training is expensive and invasive; time out of the office and the ancillary costs associated with such training often make them unaffordable, unpopular, and currently not an option to many businesses at all. Training managers often report that line managers are reluctant to release staff for training interventions citing the disruption to the operations as the main reason. In the end both parties suffer; staff don’t get the training they need to acquire new skills, capacity or knowledge to enhance their performance while the business misses out on the opportunity to have motivated employees that are functioning at a higher level. This not only results in poorer performance, but skills spend is not maximised and scorecard points are left on the table.

So, how then do we solve this problem while meeting our Workplace Skills Plans for the year? How can you ensure that the maximum recognised spend on your B-BBEE scorecard has real impact on business and personal performance without the disruption?

Over the last couple of years Wits DigitalCampus has worked with a number of companies where we have delivered our Wits accredited online short courses and had these recognised in Category B of the Skills Development element of the B_BBEE scorecard. Our courses are tailored to address business struggles, skills and capability gaps that exist today and into the future. Companies don’t want to simply tick a box – they’re seeking relevant learning experiences that will ensure employees are upskilled in critical skills, that they build the required capability and that they meet business needs with a sustainable, results-driven solution.

While online learning can be quite daunting, and one may have quite a bit of inertia in taking the first steps we have seen exciting results in our business over the last couple of years. We believe that part of the reason behind our 90%+ retention and pass rates and constant positive feedback from learners and sponsors is due to some of the magic that happens in the background. One of these magic elements is our high touch learning journey support team. Digital, online learning cannot be successful without the personal, human touch. This belief underpins everything that we at DigitalCampus do as we undertake the learner journey with each learner to ensure their success. The team stays in regular contact with learners, informing them of new module releases, assisting them with short course queries and encouraging them to complete their learning goals and assignments. This team is the link between the learner, the lecturer that is there to support them on their online journey and company sponsor remains updated on progress and risks.

We know that taking that first step has many considerations and we would welcome the opportunity to chat with you and further share some of our learnings around introducing accredited online learning into your organisation.

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