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Leveraging E-learning to Train the Food Processing Workforce

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Leveraging E-learning to Train the Food Processing Workforce

The food-processing industry is one of the key sectors of the Australian economy. According to a report published by the Australian government, the food industry accounts for nearly 23.9% of the country’s total workforce. Today, we will look at some of the major challenges faced by this vital component of the economy and how e-learning can be used to resolve them.

Challenge 1: Impart good training in a cost-effective manner

The report, 2020: Industry at Crossroads, produced by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) and A.T. Kearney Australia, reveals that the cost of manufacturing inputs and energy prices have been increasing considerably to the detriment of the nation’s food processing industry. This, coupled with the fluctuations in the value of the Australian dollar, has affected the bottom-line of several firms in this sector.

This has resulted in many companies slashing their training budgets and looking for cost-effective means to equip their people with the needed knowledge and skills. E-learning can be a boon to these organizations, as the online medium provides the best ROI on training. According to a report published by IBM, firms which utilize e-learning tools and strategies have the potential to boost productivity by up to 50%. For every $1 that a company spends, it is estimated that it can receive $30 worth of productivity.

Challenge 2: Overcome the shortage of skilled workforce

According to the Department of Employment, Government of Australia, there is an acute shortage of skilled technicians in the food-processing industry. Another report released by the Food Technology Association of Australia (FTAA) stated that there is a considerable gap in the knowledge imparted to agriculture and food science graduates and what is needed by the industry.

The online medium can go a long way in helping resolve this problem. Online modules containing animations can be used to train technical staff on the working of a machine, in an engaging manner, while simulations can be used to provide hands-on experience to the employees. For instance, a dairy firm can use animations to explain how a pasteurizer works, and watch-try-do simulations can be used to help practice the steps of the procedure to operate the machine. Also, e-learning can be used to impart the needed skills to college and university graduates. For example, concepts related to the bio-chemistry of preservation of potato chips can be taught well online.

Challenge 3: Ensure compliance to applicable laws and regulatory norms

The food-processing industry is arguably the most regulated sector of the Australian economy. Companies could lose millions of dollars in fines due to noncompliance with the applicable statutes and regulatory norms. Therefore, it is necessary to deliver effective training on the laws and rules governing the industry.

E-learning can be used to impart highly effective compliance training to the staff of food companies. You could incorporate a wide variety of instructional techniques in e-learning courses. For instance, you could use scenarios and case studies to explain the implications of violating the AS 4674-2004, which deals with design, construction, and fit-out of food manufacturing premises. E-learning can also be used to make training on regulatory standards interesting and funfilled by the use of games. For example, a food-processing unit that exports its products to the United States can evaluate the knowledge of its people on FDA norms using a learning game, based on cricket. If the employee answers a question correctly, an animated character hits a six. If he gets the answer wrong, the ball hits the stumps.

Challenge 4: Conduct operations in an environmental-friendly manner

It is a well-known fact that the food-processing industry has a profound impact on environment. According to the report Effluent management guidelines for Australian wineries and distilleries, published by the Australia and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council, a winery can produce up to five kilolitres of effluent per tonne of grapes processed. Similarly, the dairy industry and meat-processing industry generate wastes, which if not treated properly, could cause serious harm to the environment.

How can the food-processing industry conduct its operations in an eco-friendly manner? Well, its people need to be trained on environmental sustainability. Online learning nuggets containing videos are very useful to highlight the need to conserve the environment. Life cycle diagrams provide an excellent overview of different processes with their steps, while infographics could be used to explain topics in an interesting manner. Interactivities such as slideshows, flip-cards and hotspots enable correct understanding of different concepts, while animations and games “inject” life into the training.

E-learning helps food-processing companies impart highly effective training at low cost. It helps overcome the problems caused by shortage of well-trained staff and deliver good compliance training. The online medium enables firms to train their people on environmental sustainability, and thereby, conduct their operations in an eco-friendly manner. Indeed, it is the ideal medium to train the food-processing workforce. What do you think?

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