As any industry manufacturer knows, time plays a crucial role in the efficiency of a production line. And removing staff from that line for any reason can severely affect its “Takt time” – the rate at which a product must be completed to meet customer demand.

Takt has a direct impact on a company’s financial viability, let alone its profitability. And in South Africa, with our additional challenges of a 10,8% drop in manufacturing output year-on-year for August, an unreliable power supply, the high cost of doing business, and the lack of skilled workers, time is an even more precious commodity on production lines.

In this environment, training a workforce is a constant challenge. Not only must staff be continuously upskilled to operate increasingly digitised equipment and machinery, but in our volatile developing economy with its continual changes to compliance and regulatory requirements, staff often have to be removed from a production line for updated training.

There is a way, however, that staff can be trained with little if any time off a production line. With eLearning, employees can access a company’s training content on any device, through a mobile app that includes offline/data free capabilities giving easy access to training materials loaded onto an LMS or LXP (learning experience platform) in their own time, in the flow of work. This way eliminating  the classical classroom training that would require the physical presence of the staff member, and thus his/her temporary removal from a production line.

The LMS sets targets to work towards, but ultimately staff can train at their own pace. A 2018 LinkedIn report showed that 58% of employees preferred to train this way, while 64% were eager to learn while at work. And employees engaged in a company’s day-to-day progress are far more inclined to be productive and helpful to their colleagues — an IBM white paper showed that eLearning technology improved employee engagement by 19%.

The sense of accomplishment and fulfillment provided by eLearning has been shown to boost employees’ confidence and proficiency at work, which in turn creates a greater sense of loyalty to the company. This is vital, as with the massive technical-skills gap facing the manufacturing industry, the need to retain skilled staff couldn’t be greater.

And eLearning has several other advantages over traditional training techniques. For instance, there’s a significant cost saving in that companies don’t have to fly in or accommodate a training facilitator or, for that matter, employees from various branches around the country. There’s no trainer’s remuneration, venue rental, catering or printing costs. All that’s needed is internet access and a device via which employees can access the LMS if they’re unable to use their own.

eLearning also allows the business to keep a handle on how well employees are learning, and what weaknesses need to be addressed. Manufacturers can access reports from an LMS at the click of a button to gain real insights around trainee’s completion times, which pages were clicked and which weren’t, to what degree they answered questions, and which yielded the greatest response. This insight into the overall workforce’s training strengths and weaknesses enables informed higher-level decisions to be quickly made.

eLearning isn’t only here to stay – it’s growing at an unprecedented rarte. The market surpassed R3,2 million in 2019, and it’s expected to grow at a compounded annual rate of 8% between 2020 and 2026.