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The Impact of COVID-19 on the Training Industry

Arlo CEO John Mitchell recently ran a live Q&A webinar in conjunction with Candlefox, a company that works closely with education providers to increase their enrolments. John was joined by Candlefox’s Commercial Strategy Manager Claudia Reiners and UK General Manager Sarah-Jane McQueen. The panel of training industry experts answered questions from the audience and shared the results of recent industry research.

Here are some of the highlights, so you can see key trends on how other training providers are feeling and adapting.

Training providers are pivoting to online…

Unsurprisingly, 98% of our respondents said they have been affected by COVID, and 40% have cancelled or deferred face-to-face courses. Others have made an immediate pivot to live online webinars, with 83% of respondents saying they expect to adopt this method of training within the next 12 months. We’re also seeing a secondary shift to adopt blended learning (75%), and self-paced elearning (62%), as businesses continue to transition. When we asked the same question six months ago the results were significantly different – 40% more training providers are looking to move online in 2020, than in 2019.

The real-time activity we’re seeing in the back-end here at Arlo supports this anecdotal feedback. In March, we saw a 285% increase in live online courses scheduled by training providers compared to the month of Feb, and that number is continuing to grow.

Impact of COVID on the training industry

… and the market is responding

Claudia Reiners, the Commercial Strategy Manager at Candlefox, says “online courses” has doubled in popularity as a Google search term in recent months, which in itself shows that people are keen to engage in online learning. And the feedback that Candlefox is getting from thousands of learners across the globe is that they have changed their approach to studying as a result of COVID-19, and online learning is now the most desirable method. History shows us that people turn to education in times of economic uncertainty – whether it be for upskilling, offsetting the impact of job losses, regaining a sense of control or having more spare time, and this has created a unique opportunity for training providers.

The stats we’re seeing from Arlo’s training providers supports this – we’ve seen record numbers of registrations for live online courses, with 12,094 registrations in the first week of May compared to 1,488 in the first week of March. The trend we’re seeing here is that people are using lockdown time as an opportunity to learn, and upskill.

Arlo software live online registrations for training providers

Sarah-Jane McQueen, UK General Manager at Candlefox, reiterates that many training providers have had a very successful March and April with an uptake of online professional development courses, particularly short courses. However, she notes that when lockdown restrictions ease no one will be thinking about doing a course as they’ll be busy catching up with friends and family, re-entering workplaces and enjoying their freedom. While that downturn may last for a few weeks to a month, international trends show that registrations for training courses will pick up again and carry on at a higher base level than before. Her advice for training providers is “it will only be temporary, so weather that storm as people will come back.”

We can also thank Zoom for helping to prep the market for training providers, as the platform has become the new normal for work meetings, calls with family, and online learning. Zoom is seeing 300 million daily meeting participants in April 2020, compared to 10 million in December 2019 – a 30x increase!

But what does the future look like for training providers?

We asked our training providers when they expect the training market will recover, and the responses indicated that it won’t be any time soon. 60% think it will take up to 12 months to recover, and only 9% think it will recover in the first three months post COVID.

More than half of our respondents expect there to be greater demand for elearning and blended learning. Arlo CEO John Mitchell agrees with this prediction, and believes that an elearning subscription model is the way of the future for training providers, particularly for continued professional development such as that of an accountant. 

Candlefox research supports this, showing that personalised learning experiences and training that adapts to work/life balance is key for students who are looking to study in the future – a watershed moment for elearning and blended learning.

The future of the training industry post COVID

For those training providers who are just starting out on the elearning journey, John recommends taking existing webinar powerpoint presentations and packaging them up as an elearning course. He recommends using Rise 360. One of our webinar attendees, Owen Hayes from Edval Education, reiterates this; “Rise 360 very rapidly transitioned our content in an attractive package. I can’t speak highly enough about it”.

In summary, what we’re seeing is that COVID-19 has completely changed the world as we know it, causing major disruption to many businesses. For the training industry, we can count ourselves among the lucky ones – we have a viable option in online learning to continue operating during these challenging times. We know the transition isn’t an easy one, but we’re already seeing incredible uptake of online learning from both our training providers and the market. 

If you’d like to watch the webinar, you can catch the full recording here.

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