Pandemic accelerates digital transformation in continuing education and training

Wuppertaler Kreis e. V. is an association of the leading continuing education and training providers in the economy. Midway through the year it regularly publishes its trend study on company-based continuing education and training and provides information about current developments in the continuing education and training market. 

The statutory restrictions for containing the COVID-19 pandemic are impacting significantly on the work of continuing education and training. In 2020, the members of the Wuppertal association of training providers anticipate in some cases significant reductions in sales and more than half of service providers have been forced to register reduced working hours. The association's business outlook indicator for continuing education and training for 2020 - a gauge of the economic mood in the continuing education sector - has fallen for the first time since the financial crisis by 86 points to a value below 100. 

Digitalisation continues to be a prominent driver of development in companies. The changes are affecting virtually all business processes and resulting in a high demand for qualification and continuing education and training. Increased investment in continuing education is necessary and this should, especially in times of crisis, be maintained on a counter-cyclical basis. 

At the same time, the pandemic is also providing a turbo boost to the digitalisation of continuing education and training. In this respect technological development is providing the opportunity to develop new forms of continuing education and training and new tools to support this. Mobile forms of working and working from home require that these products be established in the market and significantly improved. 

Examples of this are digital learning platforms from which learning content such as video sequences of employees in the work process can be accessed from mobile end devices. A key factor in this is also the integration of different forms of learning and appealing to a range of different sensory channels (audio, video, feedback systems). The development of virtual environments which simulate work processes and give immediate feedback is also assessed as very promising. It is to be expected that digital education and training provision will become significantly more important in future and will also be integrated increasingly often as part of face-to-face formats. 

For continuing education providers in the Wuppertal association, cooperation with providers of learning and knowledge platforms is currently very important. They are in support of there continuing to be a range of sector and target group-oriented platforms and therefore reject the policymakers' proposal of centralisation in a government platform. Heading down the road of establishing a government platform offers little promise of increasing participation in continuing vocational education and training. 

In 2019, more than 1.3 million people participated in continuing education and training events organised by members of the Wuppertal association. As a result, continuing education and training service providers achieved turnover of significantly more than one billion euros. (website of the Wuppertaler Kreis, German association of further training providers), revised by iMOVE, February 2021