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By Fran Metcalf    

By the end of this year, workers will be able to learn and upgrade their qualifications through courses they’ll complete on their iPhones and iPads.

Training firm TheCyberInstitute is currently recasting its 38 different management and business courses to suit the Australian worker’s increasing reliance on mobile technologies.

Need to write a report? There’ll be courses on business writing skills offered in 20 or 30-minute sessions.

Having trouble dealing with a difficult personality? You’ll be able to download a course on communication or conflict management skills before your next meeting.

The Brisbane-based Institute, a subsidiary of the Australian Institute of Management (Qld and NT) and a registered training organisation, plans to have the courses ready to download before Christmas.

TCI chief executive officer Dawid Falck says the institute will be the first in Australia to deliver courses to iPhones and iPads.

With this year’s federal Budget providing 50 per cent of training costs for large companies and 90 per cent for small businesses, he expects take up of online learning to double in 2011.
"E-learning has evolved,” Falck says.

"In the beginning, we made the mistake of extending classroom teaching to the web and succeeded in boring audiences to tears.

"We realised people prefer to buy fun so we made the courses more engaging and interesting without compromising the quality of learning.

"Now, we’re recasting our entire suite of courses, which are based on 60 years of management experience, for iPhones and iPads. With mobile devices, people can learn where they want and when they want.”

Electronic learning is delivered in a mix of face-to-face elements, web-based seminars and individual coaching and the TCI has been offering it since 2001.

TCI creates tailor-made induction courses for large corporations including BHP and Toll and won two awards at the LearnX Pacific 2010 e-Learning and Training Awards for its Optus induction, compliance and training program.

But it also offers dozens of management courses for companies and individuals, ranging from effective networking to finance, written by a pool of 80 educators, teachers, authors and other professionals in partnership with business operators.

Falck says the courses focus on providing practical everyday skills rather than theory. "Our courses cover the skills that staff need to do their jobs every day,” he says.

"The new mobile technology courses will be shorter, so a 1 1/2 hour business writing skills course is split into 15-20 minute sessions that can be done on an iPhone or iPad.

"If I have a meeting with a member of my team who is difficult, I can hop on and do a 15-minute course on dealing with difficult personalities or how to communicate effectively and write down six or seven key points which I can then use in the meeting. It’s about giving people access to the tools they really need.”

Training can make the difference between retaining or losing an employee and is a requirement for business growth.

The 2010 Randstad World of Work Report found that employees were more motivated when they could see a clear connection between training and development and their career path.

Nearly one in four Australian businesses reported that attracting top talent to facilitate growth was "the single biggest human capital challenge for the next 12 months”.

More than 25 per cent of respondents expected the allure of better career opportunities to be the most significant cause of staff turnover in coming months, more so even than higher salaries.

At a time when attracting and retaining staff presents a critical challenge, "some organisations may find themselves at significant risk of losing key staff due to a lack of adequate career support”, the report has warned.

"Employers seeking to retain talent should therefore address the larger and more complex issues of career opportunities and internal pathways from the initial attraction phases, through to ongoing career management and succession planning.”

Unlike training workshops of the past, online and mobile technology courses enable workers to learn new skills without having to spend days out of the office or off the road.

Falck says small and medium businesses can expect to see a return on their investment within three to six months of implementing an online learning program.

"Online learning solutions also provide the opportunity to better track and measure results,” he says.

They also offer workers the flexibility and affordability they need to give themselves an edge over their competition, with courses starting from $100.

Those who complete TCI courses achieve certificates of diploma in a range of specialties including project management and business administration, all of which are recognised by universities across Australia.

"We’re very closely aligned to Griffith University,” Falck says.

"You can do one third of a Masters of Business Administration through us and then finish the degree at Griffith.

"The global financial crisis was a real wake-up call for many workers.

"A lot of people realised their job wasn’t there forever and their organisations were not bullet-proof.

"It really made people wonder what they were doing for themselves when it came to work.”

For more information, visit www.thecyberinstitute.com.au


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