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The upsides and downsides of digital staff training

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, August 17, 2022
The upsides and downsides of digital staff training

Business digitization in Latin America skyrocketed during the pandemic, so professionals in sectors such as construction, mining, and agriculture had to retrain and acquire digital skills, which, however, led to a widening gap between digitally skilled and unskilled workers.

“The available training tools had a logic anchored in the pre-pandemic, of face-to-face training, which today is absolutely obsolete,” José Garay, general manager of the Chilean construction chamber's training unit (Otic CChC), told BNamericas.

Otic CChC plans to use distance learning and virtual reality for staff training and will soon begin piloting digital solutions to test how these technologies can help train frontline workers.

"What is sought through this pilot is to identify which things work and which don't, in order to then bring these conclusions to the market," he said.

Otic CChC and distance education company Flip carried out a joint study on the barriers to the use of e-learning.

"One of the first conclusions was to show that companies see training as a competition against productivity, when it is the opposite," Garay said. It’s also often assumed that online courses are lower quality than face-to-face courses.

The study showed that 54% of workers over 50 do not feel comfortable interacting with virtual training.

“With workers who have completed their schooling, we see that there is much less resistance than those who have not completed their schooling,” he said.

Another difficulty is that 80% of workers in frontline roles don’t have access to a computer and little training space. But 80% also use their own smartphone to complete training.

“Although most of the workers have a smartphone, not all of them have a data plan or are not willing to spend it on training that the company should provide,” said Garay. Content providers should offer downloadable material for offline consumption, he added.

These issues will be tested in the pilots.

Virtual reality is still not widespread enough due to high costs, although it will become increasingly common, Garay said. "This is seen in mining, which has much more comfortable budgets, but it is difficult to see in companies such as construction or retailers due to budget restrictions," he said.

“The grace of face-to-face training is that workers learn by doing, and that is why virtual or remote training does not seem effective. This is what virtual reality comes to solve a little,” highlighted Garay.

Otic CChC and virtual reality company Imova are implementing a teaching design program based on virtual reality for technical education establishments. It is based on the assumption that virtual reality will increase the speed of learning four times over classroom learning and 1.5 times over online training.

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