CORNER BROOK A local business is taking advantage of online training offered for free by the provincial government.
SmartForceNL.ca is a site offering over 5,000 courses for employees in the province. The goal is to create a strong workforce by offering skills development for all workers to compete globally.
Janet Joyce first heard about the program when it was announced in the winter of 2011 by the Department of Advanced Education and Skills.
Joyce, human resources director at Colemans Group of Companies, felt that the program was a great fit for her company, known as a local grocery store chain.
"For us we wanted to use the courses to professionalize our workforce," she said. "We decided to sign up and use the program."
About a year later, Colemans rolled out the first segment of training to 77 management team members.
The two courses Joyce chose were Ready, Set, Manage and Leading with a Vision. She said employees were very receptive of doing the courses, that both took about a hour and half to complete. Some employees went on to complete even more courses that were not required.
Evaluation of the courses' success has not been tied to measurable outcomes, such as customer satisfaction or sales, Joyce said, as that would be very difficult to do.
Based on overwhelmingly positive feed back from employees, however, the company is selecting more courses to roll-out in January 2013.
The first block of training was focused on employees who have company email addresses and work mostly in office positions, for communication purposes. Joyce said the company is looking to expand course offerings to its front line staff next.
"I go through the courses and look for ones that will resonate with our staff," she said. "We look for things that are transferable to an operational environment."
Over the summer she will be finishing a business plan to incorporate additional courses into employee training that cover all aspects of operations, such as accounting, computing, and even a course on proper hand-washing.
SmartForceNL.Ca is hosted on the CoursePark Social Learning Network, facilitated through St. John's-based company, Bluedrop Performance Learning.
Newfoundland and Labrador is the first province to strike a deal with Bluedrop, for $1,689,500, to offer this free online training to small and medium-sized businesses.
All courses are pre-paid by the provincial government and free to employers. In the province's course pack, 40 courses have been custom designed to meet the needs of Newfoundland and Labrador enterprises. Other courses available include, Photoshop CS4, Microsoft Office Suite programs, investment fundamentals and interview skills.