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Alternative Education -- Virtual Classrooms

May 2005
by chris bauer

Managing Editor

Companies that fancy themselves as being on the leading edge of technology have to keep their employees as well-trained and up-to-date as possible. While it is not always feasible to send employees off-site to attend training programs, other options are available.

Computer-based training opportunities, such as popular Webinar sessions, are available from industry associations, vendors and even printers. They allow attendees to learn the latest industry skills without taking time out of the work environment or having the company foot the expenses involved with traveling.

"Webinars are becoming a more popular option for all industries—not just printers—because of the ease and relatively low cost for companies to train their entire organizations," advises Dave Haradon, Webinar producer at IPA, the association of graphic solutions providers. "Historically, companies have sent a few key representatives to face-to-face conferences to gain the latest information about new products, or services and/or best practice improvements. These representatives were responsible for absorbing the conference information, returning to the office and disseminating this information to other members within the company."

In reality, however, only a small amount of this information is ultimately shared with the organization—and even less is applied for future business improvements.

Affordable Training

"Managers find it difficult to find the money and, particularly, the time to train, especially with leaner workforces and the increasing demand for faster turnaround," adds James Workman, director of training programs for the Printing Industries of America/Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (PIA/GATF).

"As a result, Webinars become an appealing option. You don't have to leave the plant, the costs are affordable, one fee accommodates many people and archived recordings can be listened to by staff members that missed the live presentation."

PIA/GATF research in 2004 showed that profit leaders had reduced costs as a percentage of their sales on all items except training and education. On average, profit leaders spend twice as much for education and training—4.1 percent versus 2 percent of payroll for profit challengers, Workman points out.

In today's competitive printing marketplace, frequent hardware and software upgrades are necessary. Printers have seen the impact of these upgrades on their employee productivity, and have realized that continual training is essential to efficient production. Add to this tight production deadlines, and printers are required to find an efficient, effective manner to offer training to their employees.

"Since many online course offerings are available 24/7 through any computer with an Internet connection, and online training is often more affordable than traditional in-house training methods, it has become a popular method of addressing upgrade issues," states Julie Jankowski, vice president of strategic development, Prepress Training Solution.
 

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