Employment has been impacted in a variety of ways in the current COVID-19 environment, but eCreators and an award-winning Gippsland training provider has seized the opportunity to lead the way with an innovative new online portal to ready job seekers for roles and opportunities post-pandemic.
The Employability Skills Training (EST) program plays a vital role in preparing job seekers for the workplace through interactive learning experiences based around real work settings, and exposure to various work environments.
Gippsland-based training provider, FGM Consultants, anticipated the disruption COVID-19 would cause and quickly swung into action to migrate their EST, part of the Commonwealth Department of Education, Skills and Employment Youth Jobs PaTH program, into a digital platform.
Best described as a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and delivery of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs, the Learning Management System (LMS) has been funded by the Victorian Government through a grant to Food & Fibre Gippsland. It has been designed by us here at eCreators.
eCreators were approached by Food & Fibre Gippsland’s Workforce Training Innovation Project Manager, Dr Julian Hill. Julian presented the challenges that the current agriculture workforce is facing along with a series of requirements that would need to be met, both short and long-term.
The team at eCreators worked with Julian to better understand the requirements and how they aligned to business outcomes through a discovery phase, which we call a learning lab!
What is a Learning Lab?
This process allowed for all parties to fully understand the scope of the requirements, starting from project ignition and all the way through to how this will directly impact the end-users (those that will be completing the training housed on the LMS). Documentation detailing the infrastructure, base LMS functionality, development outcomes, maintenance, support and more were provided as a part of an agreed-upon Solutions Design Document.
And then eCreators quickly moved into action!
Our team also took the opportunity to tour the Gippsland Region to gain a better understanding of the fast-paced and complicated nature of the agricultural industry.
Account Manager, Ash Kammerhofer highlighted the importance of the site visit as a crucial part of the process, stating;
“Being able to see first-hand the organisations and people that make this industry run is invaluable in the long term, as it touches every part of the project. For most learners, a large, complicated process needs to be refined – ready at a moment’s notice. ”
Using existing FGM-created materials and modules, we were able to deliver the final platform in just 10 days, with the FGM team working collaboratively alongside eCreators to build an intuitive, easy to use system that allows job seekers continued access to EST support.
FGM Consultants CEO Michael Grogan is impressed with what has been achieved in a very short time and is very encouraged by the quality of participant engagement, stating “As the impacts of COVID-19 became clearer, we pretty quickly realised that all of our Employability Skills Training (EST) activities would need to be conducted in a way that didn’t involve any face-to-face contact.“
The Learnbook LMS that has been created by eCreators has enabled FGM to replicate their face-to-face EST program to the new online model while retaining engaging, classroom-like interactivity.
“The system allows our trainers and administrators to actively monitor participants’ time on screen and course progress, meaning student contact and support can be easily targeted and maintained throughout the program – it’s working brilliantly!” Mr Grogan said.
“Learnbook allows for easy and instant access to all of the applicable courses a user needs to complete within their organisation. This leads to higher rates of adoption from the end-users as it’s not yet another hurdle in their day and it also allows for the training and administration teams to have confidence in knowing they can ensure their staff are trained and ready for work.” – Mr Kammerhofer said
On 1 April 2020, FGM hosted an online LMS information session for Job Active providers and a recorded version was forwarded to anyone unable to attend.
Testing for online capability was conducted five days later and the LMS was launched in time for FGM’s first tranche of fully online EST activities as scheduled, on 14 April 2020.
An important activity in the Employability Skills Training is a connection to real work environments, so to achieve that in a virtual space, the next steps are for FGM to upload videos from employers across a variety of industries.
Via these videos, the employers will be speaking to the course content, providing industry overviews and outlining their expectations of employees, as well as sharing personal experiences about their employment journeys.
FGM anticipate building a library of industries, people and workplace visits over the coming months that will continue whenever the business returns to normal “face to face” delivery.
There is potential for gamification of some content which will give participants more interactive, formative based learning opportunities. This can help improve information retention as well as task-mastery to position them better to meet the needs of future industries.
Food & Fibre Gippsland CEO, Nicola Pero is delighted with the success of this initial rollout of the LMS.
“Being able to collaborate with one of our strategic industry partners on the Employability Skills Training project is fantastic, and as we continue to build these online capabilities and capacity, the positive future flow-on benefits to support the training needs for Gippsland Food & Fibre members and businesses in the region is significant“ she said.
In their daily improvement workshops, the FGM team continues to explore new ways to make the LMS a fun learning experience, discussing the “What If’s” and “Can We” concepts to see “What can work” and “If Not”, “ Why Not?”.
They’re both embracing and enforcing the rule that nothing is off the table, it’s just they might not have the answer just yet!
Next item on the agenda is a “My Kitchen Rules – FGM Style” fun engagement contest for all participants, all online, which may be a world-first for an LMS.
“This sounds very exciting! This shows that there are no limits to how you want to use your LMS. It’s all in your creativity and imagination! We’re looking forward to seeing more ways the organisation uses our platform to engage with their learners.” eCreators
With the success they’ve enjoyed in the first 10 days of this new portal, eCreators, together with the Food & Fibre Gippsland Workforce Capabilities Project Manager, Julian Hill, believe the possibilities are endless.
“We are definitely on track to be market leaders in providing business options to use LMS and truly streamline training needs for employers, employees and job seekers not just in Gippsland, but around Australia”.
Footnote: The Learning Management System (LMS) has been funded by the Victorian Government through a grant to Food & Fibre Gippsland. FGM Consultants is a proponent of the project with Food & Fibre Gippsland.