E-learning on course - the pub industry catches up

Related tags Pub industry Learning Occupational safety and health

After much talking e-learning is starting to make progress in the pub industry. Phil Mellows talked to one pioneer, Creative Learning MediaIt is...

After much talking e-learning is starting to make progress in the pub industry. Phil Mellows talked to one pioneer, Creative Learning Media

It is tempting to think that computer technology and the internet can do away with traditional ways of training.

Sending someone away on a course or coaching them personally through a procedure is both costly and time-consuming.

Surely it must be possible to sit them down in front of a screen for half an hour, or maybe even plug them in, and let all that knowledge flood into their brains.

Many businesses have experimented with some form of e-learning, as it is called, but not many have really made a success of it. There has been a lot of talk without much progress.

Richard Taylor agrees and he should know. He is head of Creative Learning Media (CLM) which, for the past five years has been grappling with the opportunity.

Richard used to run Harvester pub-restaurants and also worked for the Magic Pub Company, so he is no tech-head. In fact, he believes that the big mistake that has been made so far is the assumption that your can rely on e-learning for all your training, rather than as one part of what he calls "a blended approach" which also incorporates workshops and on-the-job coaching.

Richard is also highly critical of the book-on-a-screen variety of "so-called e-learning" which, he argues, has been marketed as an instant cure by companies "trying to jump onto the e-learning bandwagon".

"E-learning is about effective training courses and not about technology jargon," he said. "Techies assume everyone learns in the same, mechanical way. Thankfully, that's not true.

"Simply teaching people facts is not the way to inspire good performance. That's about having the right attitude and motivation as well as having the right knowledge and skills."

To change behaviour, rather than just trying to fill people's heads, Richard believes the learning activities themselves must be interesting, challenging, credible and relevant to the learner. It is the blended strategy that makes it possible to adapt training to an individual's needs and existing knowledge, and therefore make it more effective.

In fact, Richard would ideally like to drop the term e-learning altogether so that techniques based on the internet or CD ROM are thought of simply as aspects of learning in general.

That approach has established CLM as the leading provider in the hospitality sector. More than 300,000 people in 200 companies have taken courses - mainly in the statutory subjects of Food Safety and Health & Safety.

Richard believes that's only the tip of the iceberg, however. The pub industry in particular presents a big challenge to e-learning and he is developing modules in bar skills, cellar management and licensing law.

Among the larger pubcos which have experimented with CLM's courses are Scottish & Newcastle, which currently has a programme on trial, and Hall & Woodhouse, which has worked with CLM for some time.

Its retail director, David Hoare, was full of praise for the way e-learning has contributed to what the company is trying to do.

"The most important thing in our business is to ensure that our people buy into what we are trying to achieve and have the knowledge and skills to help us achieve it," he said.

"Our mission at Hall and Woodhouse is very simple - we want to make people's day. To do this we need people throughout the organisation to be committed to the mission and know how to achieve it.

"As well as making our customers' day we also want to make our employees' day. We want their time with us to be productive and fun. We want them to develop, to stay with us and drive our business forward.

"We've found interactive computer-based learning to be one of the most powerful tools we have to achieve these objectives. We are able to make sure all our staff receive the same quality of induction and training, and their progress through the courses is monitored via the internet.

"Because of the modular structure, we find that knowledge retention is much higher. With classroom training we were finding that, six weeks later, many of our kitchen assistants couldn't remember anything they had learned.

"The primary benefit is engaged, motivated and knowledgeable staff," he continued. "We've also found that e-learning has cut the cost of providing mandatory training on health and safety and food hygiene.

"Everything is delivered at the pub, so our publicans don't lose key staff on off-site classroom-based training courses. Another benefit is that our e-learning courses are fully adaptable to the needs of part-time employees."

CLM is now hoping to broaden the use of e-learning in the pub industry by making its Food Safety and Health & Safety courses available on CD ROM through the.Publican.com at a special rate - click here to find out more and for your free​ demo.

Benefits of e-learning

  • accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at short notice and in bite-sized chunks
  • adaptable to individual needs, especially for people with learning difficulties, including dyslexia, and people who speak English as a second language
  • improves learning effectiveness and retention levels
  • reduces training time by about 50 per cent
  • cuts cost of training by up to 90 per cent
  • enables people to train in quiet times during a normal shift
  • training can be taken when needed and does not haveto be planned in advance
  • progress is easily tracked and evaluated across an organisation

What you need:

  • access to a PC on site
  • soundcards and speakers or headphones
  • Windows Media Player
  • sufficient hard disk space
  • modem

How it works:

  • the learner sits in front of the computer and runs theprogramme either from a CD-ROM or downloads it from the internet
  • a pre-training assessment is given and the course is tailored accordingly
  • the course is delivered using pictures, sound and video. There are frequent exercises and work simulations tohelp learning
  • at the end of each course, an exam tests what the trainee has learned.

Pictured top: David Hoare (right) and Richard Castleton, HR manager for Hall & Woodhouse, review one of their bespoke e-learning courses

Related topics Training

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