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Automotive industry experiments with new learning models, to innovate as sales fall


The automotive industry has been hard hit by the recession with production levels down and falling sales but it continues to innovate with competitive advantage and the sector is looking beyond the classroom to new learning models and media to address these skills more efficiently and effectively.

This is according to the findings of the first European study on new approaches to learning within the automotive sector.

Fifteen of the largest European automotive manufacturers contributed to the Driving Results with Learning Technologies in the Automotive Sector report. The study, commissioned by Toyota Motor Europe, was conducted by benchmarking company, Towards Maturity earlier this year.

Compared to other sectors, the automotive sector is experienced in using technology in learning, with the majority of automotive manufacturers using some form of technology enabled learning for over three years.

In total 55% of learning within the sector is e-enabled which is significantly higher than the 22% benchmark average. The automotive sector is much more likely than other sectors to focus on general sales and customer service skills, and slightly more likely to focus on leadership and management, induction and industry specific regulatory requirements.

Within the sector, there is a general trend to decrease the amount of face-to- face 'traditional' classroom training and to increase the amount of blended learning or entirely online training offered. On average 45% of all learning is face-to-face, 41% is blended and 14% is entirely online.

The automotive sector is using a board mix of technologies to address these challenges including virtual classrooms 37% and mobile learning 11%. Mobile learning is on the rise in the sector with 50% of respondents intending to introduce mobile learning in the next two years.

Compared to other industries, the automotive sector is engaging a higher percentage of staff with e-learning (69% vs.57%), reporting greater saving in study time (27% vs. 22%) and finding greater improvements in staff satisfaction and engagement (11% vs.8%).

The top barriers to learning technology adoption are linked to ICT infrastructure and access - a barrier that has been declining in other sectors, as access improves. The sector is also less likely to have the support of senior managers. However they are much less likely to report lack of skills of learners and lack of skills of L&D, as a barrier than other sectors

Sann René Glaza, senior manager of customer service training centre, Toyota Motor Europe said: "Some years ago Toyota Motor Europe embarked on anambitious project to roll out a learning management system across all its markets.

"But, it is always useful to stop and make a check of where we are, what we could be doing better, and what we might need for the future. This report contains findings that will help us all do just that. The good news is that the automotive sector is embracing learning technologies as an effective way to reach our network with valuable knowledge. A challenge for us all is to continue searching for the link between knowledge transfer and critical business indicators that will convince first line supervisors up to retail management of the value of investing in human resource development."

Most organisations in the sector have seen their overall training budget increase over the last two years, and anticipate further increase over the next two years. Most anticipate that the proportion allocated to learning technologies will continue to increase.

Laura Overton, MD of Towards Maturity, added: "Building the skills and confidence of frontline staff is critical for all organisations and the automotive sector are really using learning technologies to increase skill levels and improve competitive advantage. This in-depth report shares many practical insights for any business looking to increase the impact of learning technologies, especially across multiple countries."