Using Cloud-based technology for effective cost savings in an increasingly challenging educational landscape.
Managing a small to medium-sized organisation in the training and skills sector has never been without its challenges, but right now those challenges may seem to be almost insurmountable. A 2022 House of Commons Library briefing on 16-19 training provision, for example, states that the sector “has experienced a prolonged period of reduced funding.” Government plans to increase per-learner funding will only reverse part of previous spending cuts, leaving providers with less in real terms.
With budgets tighter than ever, the current rising cost of living means that spending needs to outstrip inflation before providers can even to start to catch up. And this is against a backdrop of higher outgoings for learning providers, with energy bills, staff salaries, resources, and materials all on the increase.
To ensure a sustainable future, learning providers are under pressure to find ways to gain efficiencies across their entire organisation, so that what budget they have is available to deliver the quality learning experience that they are committed to.
Delivering more, for less
The delivery of education was transformed rapidly during the pandemic as organisations embraced new technology to ensure a continuity of service. Management processes have been transformed too. New solutions are now elevating every function in the learning provider organisation, making them more efficient. The benefits are being felt in every department, from managers and admin teams, enrolment staff and finance professionals, through to tutors and course assessors.
Technology has the potential to make everyone’s day-to-day jobs easier, reducing the risk of burnout and stress while giving people more time to devote to the more rewarding parts of their job. This is a crucial driver for increased staff retention and attraction of new employees at a time where there are skills shortages, increased early retirement rates and disenchanted employees leaving the training and skills sector. It also helps to activate greater return on investment (ROI) and more effective learner and organisational management processes. These are common objectives for all learning providers, but especially so for small and medium-sized Independent Training Providers, many of which are operating on extremely tight margins.
A Learning Management System needs to be able to deliver several critical requirements to help providers ensure that they can deliver for less. These include:
This streamlines all processes, from onboarding new learners to finance and learner assessments. By saving employees’ time on these often-repetitive processes, they have more time to spend doing value-added tasks.
Funding tools help with calculating actual and projected monthly funding and with the reconciliation of ESFA reports against internal data.
Cloud-based solutions provide real time access to data and flexibility with customisable report design and bespoke dashboards.
ILR-compliant data capture
Capturing learner data with built-in validation and automatic updating enables organisations to easily meet current year specifications. This can be enhanced with Independent Learner Record (ILR) export and import tools for simple data sharing.
Applicant onboarding is made easier with customised signup forms, applicant management and vacancy matching for learner management, right up to the start date.
Learning journey management
Course management and delivery plan tools can help manage and track each individual learner journey, end to end.
This important element in learning provision can be enhanced with an inbuilt organisation database, automated contact tools, remote signatures, and online paperwork functionality.
Optimising ROI means that it is important to choose the most suitable technology provider with experience in the education sector. These will have greater insights into learner management and delivery pain points, with proven solutions and a tried-and-tested track record.
For many small to medium-sized learning providers, it makes sense to start small, particularly if budgets are too restrictive. Choosing a fully scalable solution is often the most sustainable choice, as the technology can then grow in line with organisational growth, while one that is cloud-based offers the greatest flexibility. These solutions offer scalability with access to data in real time for more accurate and up-to-date reporting, as well as flexible access from anywhere. This enables hybrid working for staff and provides enhanced levels of cybersecurity over legacy on-site systems.
Implementing a powerful, scalable solution can transform small to medium-sized learning organisations within a very short time, ensuring greater cost and time savings immediately. It will also enable potential organisational growth, so that learning providers can continue maximising efficiencies into the future.
PICS is the UK’s most popular LMS solution for training providers, with over 25 years of industry experience. More ILR returns are submitted via PICS than any other commercial LMS and it is now part of the unrivalled suite of solutions that Advanced Education provide. PICS integrates with Smart Apprentices and bksb to provide a comprehensive answer to the challenges of managing a small to medium-sized learning provider organisation.