You’ll find a lot of online courses for business skills, marketing, finance, HR and many other skills
One of the difficult things about living in a rural area has always been the need to drive somewhere to get something. We had to drive six miles to get a quart of milk. And 30 miles to go to school. As what you needed became more specific, the distance we had to travel increased.
This was especially true for training. As farming has become more complicated and more regulated, the need for continuing education and training has increased. Unfortunately the cost to deliver that education in the traditional sense — in a central meeting room — has increased substantially.
Online training has solved this problem. And as the methods and capabilities of online training improve, the courses available to you — and the complexity of those courses — will increase.
The Canadian Agri-Retailers Association (CAAR) recently completed a project to make their Ammonia Handler’s training course available online. Watch for a full launch of the online course this spring at http://caar.org.This is a fully web-based service. If you are going to be hauling anhydrous ammonia tanks and need to get a Transportation of Dangerous Goods certificate, you can go to the CAAR website and register with your name and address, pay by credit card, and have your login information emailed to you.
Course materials consist of text, images and a narrated audio of the materials. It has more detail than what you would see in a basic Transportation of Dangerous Goods course and includes images of tanks, valves and equipment that someone handling ammonia needs to understand. Once you have finished the materials and passed the test, which typically takes about three hours in total, you can print your certificate. All without leaving the farm!
Got an employee without a lot of on-farm experience or a family member who takes safety too lightly? Training has proven to be an important step in reducing and eliminating accidents on the farm and anywhere else. One of the first levels of safety training businesses provide to employees is what is called awareness training. This can be delivered effectively online and an online testing process can help you measure the retention of the employee.
An example of one of the most common types of required safety training is Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). Most employees who are handling controlled products needs to have knowledge of the WHMIS regulations, the symbols, and the safe handling of that material. When we started offering this training three years ago, the cost of getting it at a workshop
was about $50 for a half-day session plus in some case travel and travel time. Now you can take an online version for about $25 and get certified in the comfort of your home.
As farm sizes continue to increase and there is a greater reliance on additional employees, the need for more formal safety programs will mean a greater need to train your people. Online may be a way to get the training you need and not have to drive anywhere to get it.
One note: Do not expect too much from online training. A WHMIS training course may help an employee understand the symbols on the packaging of the product they are working with and know the risks of the product, you need to go a step further and show them how to safely work with that product, which includes following up with them on a regular basis to observe them following the proper safe handling procedures.
OFFER YOUR OWN ONLINE COURSE
Anyone offering a course or organizing a seminar takes on a financial risk when that course is in a room you had to book and pay for. As an example, I have been delivering a sales training workshop for the past eight years. The typical costs are for the meeting room, equipment rental, materials, refreshments and my time, which add up to about $900 for the half day session. The capacity for this type of session is about 14, which give me a cost per person of $64 not including any marketing. I need to get 14 people to register, and charge at least $64 each to break even. This kind of cost structure creates a risk in putting on an event and the price will actually have to be much higher to cover the marketing costs to get 14 people to the workshop.
So how does online training compare to that? I took my workshop materials, which were in PowerPoint, and added an audio narration of the script to create an electronic set of materials. We loaded this course into an online training delivery system
TrainingToDo.com.We then created a website, FullLimitSelling.com,where someone can get information about the course, signup online and pay with a credit card. The total cost of this was about $7,500. The course has a selling price of $199 and for each course we sell, we have a variable cost of $8 for the merchant fees and the use of the training delivery system. This leaves a gross margin of $191 and we have a break even after 38 customers. After that, the gross margin generates a nice return on the investment.
This is why individuals with various forms of expertise are now able to share and market their expertise. So any of you who consider yourself an expert, there could be a great opportunity for you to sell your expertise. But for those of you looking to learn and acquire knowledge, you’ll find a lot of online courses for business skills, marketing, finance, HR and many other skills — and if you can’t find what you are looking for online it is only a matter of time.
Allan Dubyts is the CEO of SafeAndCertified.comlocated in Winnipeg. SafeAndCertified helps businesses save money and better train their people using online training and testing.