L&D Best Practices

How Online Learning Can Help Build Agile Digital Governments

Luis Pinto

Director of Business Development for Government, EMEA at Udemy

December 11, 2018

As governments around the world capture the benefits of digitization – from e-government portals to machine learning – training public administration and civil service employees in the latest skills will be essential to building agile, digital governments. According to the McKinsey report Public-Sector Digitization: the Trillion Dollar Challenge, while governments have made great strides in digitizing public service delivery, they still have a long way to go on their digital journey. Governments in industrialized and developing nations are also at varying stages of their digital transformation.

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The private sector is leading the effort to upskill their workforce for the new digital age. For example, Udemy for Business customer Ernst & Young (EY) leverages online learning and a digital badge certification program to prepare their employees for the future of work.

But what about the public sector? Part of going digital also involves transforming how governments deliver training to their employees. High-cost classroom instruction can be replaced by low-cost online learning that offers economies of scale and enables public service employees to be upskilled quickly with the latest skills.

Singapore’s Civil Service College: pioneer on the digital frontier

Singapore’s Civil Service College, a Udemy for Government customer, is a pioneer on the digital frontier of e-government. Recognizing that the traditional model of face-to-face training is no longer enough to help public officers keep pace with changing market demands, Singapore is taking steps to transform into an agile digital government. Udemy’s online courses will allow public officers just-in-time access to the latest skills their jobs require.

Here are some of the benefits of online learning for governments across the world in both industrialized and developing countries.

1. Drive down the cost of training and upskill employees quickly

Efficiency and efficacy are the name of the game. Governments have sunk a fair bit of money into classroom training. However, this kind of face-to-face training is expensive and can only reach a limited number of public service employees. Digital online learning lets you scale and reach 100% of your workforce quickly while enjoying substantial savings in travel, time, and labor costs. For example, instead of sending engineers to on-site Python training that would incur higher travel costs and time away from the job, cybersecurity firm Malwarebytes relied on a Udemy for Business subscription for online training. The result? They saved $2,340 per employee and were able to train their entire team in 30 days rather than the usual 6 months.

Online skills acquisition is also accelerated through just-in-time learning. Public service employees can access learning at the moment of need on the job. They also don’t have to sit through the entire course, but can learn in bite-sized chunks only what they need to solve the problem at hand. The Singapore’s Civil Service College is leveraging Udemy for Government to offer on-demand, just-in-time learning to their civil servants.

2. Increase public service employee engagement and productivity

Since government employees often enjoy higher job security (and in many cases, jobs are guaranteed for life), employee engagement and productivity can sometimes be lower than their private sector counterparts. A national poll conducted by the CPS HR Institute for Public Sector Employee Engagement, revealed that 44 percent of private-sector employees in the U.S. are fully engaged compared with only 38 percent of public-sector employees.

Online learning can provide a tool for governments to both empower and engage their employees. Research has proven there’s a strong connection between learning and high employee engagement. Offering a broad range of online courses—from leadership skills to personal development and technical skills—can help employees feel more engaged on the job.

In our recent State of the ROI of Learning Report, we discovered 52% of high-engagement companies have employees who spend an average of 31-50 hours learning per year compared to only 20% of low-engagement companies. After adding online learning, 64% of companies said average employee satisfaction and engagement rate increased.

Online learning can also boost employee productivity. Our study also found that 67% of companies using online learning as their primary learning resource observed higher productivity (as measured by faster onboarding time of new hires).

Moreover, according to McKinsey, digital transformation in the public sector will require technical skills that are in high demand. Government organizations often struggle to compete with the private sector for this scarce talent. Offering engaging and on-demand online learning as a benefit to government employees provides a way to both attract and nurture key talent.

3. Empower employees to choose personalized learning journeys

Online learning offers an abundance of choice – whether it’s an instructor’s teaching style, mobile learning, or even preference for the time of day to learn. The learner can decide how they want to learn and when.

Udemy for Government’s Smart Recommendations also powers what individual learners should learn next using the data of 24 million learners on Udemy worldwide. By analyzing billions of learning interactions unique to Udemy, we can deliver smarter, personalized learning recommendations for each individual. By surfacing more powerful and intelligent content to learners, we can engage people more in learning and help employees navigate the ever-evolving skills landscape.

Our Udemy marketplace model relies on consumer ratings and reviews to validate which courses are the most effective and engaging. Udemy for Government then curates the best of these courses to offer to the world’s governments.

What we discovered is the best teachers aren’t always found in the classroom. Our instructors are experts in their fields and often published authors on their subject matter. In contrast to university courses which are more theoretical, our instructors provide hands-on practical skills that can be applied immediately on the job. But what makes the best instructors rise above the rest is their passion for the topic. This passion spreads virally and motivates learners to want to learn more. See why Udemy students are motivated to learn.

4. Deliver continuous adult learning programs to address youth unemployment

Beyond the civil service, online learning can help deliver continuous adult learning programs for the broader, national workforce. Around 260 million people ages 15–24 are out of school and out of work worldwide, according to the World Bank’s World Development 2019 Report: The Changing Nature of Work. The World Bank recommends effective adult learning can be solved by better design and better delivery.

Taking time off work or traveling to the classroom is often a major barrier for adults to continue learning. Online learning’s low-cost, on-demand, mobile-first approach, and flexibility fits into busy adult lifestyles. Delivering online learning can help address high youth unemployment and equip people with new skills required in the digital era. For example, Syrian refugee Mohamad Alaloush dropped out of university but started learning Python programming online on Udemy and ultimately landed a job at a software company in Germany.

Udemy for Government’s engaging and hands-on practical online courses can help transition the workforce from school to work and nurture critical entrepreneurship skills as well as address basic literacy. Research has proven the effectiveness of mobile for adult learning. “In Niger, students who received instruction via their mobile phones as part of an adult education program achieved reading and math scores that were significantly higher than those who did not,” according to the World Bank.

Previous World Bank classroom-based adult learning projects, while effective, have come at higher costs. “In Liberia, even though young women with access to job skills training enjoy higher monthly earnings—US$11 more than the comparison group—the cost of the program is US$1,650 per person,” according to the World Bank.

Udemy for Government’s cost-effective and flexible online learning platform can deliver learning at scale to help upskill the broader, national workforce while keeping public service employees up to speed with the latest digital skills.

Luis Pinto is Director of Business Development for Government, EMEA at Udemy. Previously, Luis was at Learn Capital, investing in education startups and managing external relations with governments and their stakeholders on Education policy. Before this, he led a K-12 initiative, developing projects in 30+ countries that impacted 10M+ students. He also drove sales and managed government relationships in Africa, Middle East, and Latin America.
Udemy for Business is a learning platform that helps companies stay competitive in the digital transformation of the workplace by offering fresh, relevant, and personalized on-demand learning content, curated from the Udemy marketplace. Our mission is to help employees do whatever comes next—whether that’s the next project to do, skill to learn, or role to master. We’d love to partner with you on your employee development needs. Get in touch with us at business@udemy.com

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