Bridging the E-Learning Skill Gap

A new research report by ATD titled: Next Generation E-Learning: Skills and Strategies, reveals a significant gap in the expansion of E-Learning and the cause of the gap is surprising. Although a whopping 9 out of 10 of the 526 organizations surveyed said they offer some E-Learning to their workers, with organizations categorized as “high-performance” delivering the largest portion of their training electronically, most organizations would like to expand their portfolio, but can’t. This time, E-Learning expansion is not limited by technology, acceptance, or perceived value, as in the past, but the main reason organizations were unable to expand E-Learning is because they do not have the talent to design and deliver courseware. Specifically, their workplace learning staff lacked:

  • general e-learning design skills
  • knowledge of available e-learning tools and applications
  • specific design tools or software
  • overall instructional design knowledge or skills

Most organizations are unable to train their T & D staff in these areas, making those who possess this skill set very desirable in the job market. A quick search of Indeed using the term “E-Learning” in Chicago yielded over 300 jobs, most full-time.

The Graduate Program in Training & Development at Roosevelt University addresses the critical skills barrier revealed in the research by preparing our students for careers in talent development, with a strong emphasis on E-Learning. From their very first course, students receive general knowledge of E-Learning tools and applications, fine-tuning this in our Training Technology course. Later, our students complete two courses in instructional design and an additional two courses in E-Learning where they use widely accepted design tools and software to create their delivery.

When they graduate, many of our students work as instructional designers, virtual trainers, or consultants in E-Learning. Those who prefer a more general career path still benefit from their background in technology as it enables them to manage and lead others who perform these skills. In particular, for students who are seeking a career change to enter the field of training, the skills they develop in our E-Learning courses can make the transition to the new field faster and more lucrative.

Although the field of training and development continues to evolve, one aspect that is critical to its future is technology and E-Learning. We believe that our curriculum, with its emphasis on technology, is contributing to the success of our graduates by developing critical and necessary skills for the next generation workforce.


Questions for Discussion

What are your thoughts on the E-learning skills gap? Do you see this in your organization?


  • In my experience, I have seen a similar gap. Many resources that were dedicated to training and development are generalists and e-learning design and delivery are considered specialized skills. When needed, there are resources contracted to design e-learning or update existing courses. I think it’s great that this article points out the demand for this specialized focus. Students can use this information to decide if they’d like to include e-learning in their specialized skill set, which may be attractive to lots of employers.

  • While I am delighted to learn that e-learning skills are in high demand, I was very surprised to learn that many companies are having difficulty offering e-learning due to lack of skills within their organizations. Given the experience I have gained in the MATD program I know that I have increased my value to my company, but have not observed any lack of e-learning experience in my work environment. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

    With a global work population in an extremely fast moving and competitive environment we must deliver training for the preponderance of our soft and hard skills via e learning. As well, my company encourages us to use cutting-edge tools and has specialists within our organization to continually evaluate the market to identify what can take our e-learning to the next level. I am very fortunate, and frankly, did not know the uniqueness of my environment!

    I have really enjoyed – and been challenged by – my MATD program from which I will graduate in December. I cannot help, however, to be re-energized by the fact that not only have I had the opportunity to apply the learning and skills in my current environment but that I gained a high-in-demand new skill that could present additional opportunities in the future.

    Thank you for opening my eyes to the high value of what our Roosevelt program has had to offer.

  • I like the idea of e-learning becoming an industry all by itself. With the rapid change in technology, the needs of physical classrooms become less attractive. I go to school completely online, and I probably wouldn’t have the time to attend classes in a classroom based on my work schedule. It’s nice to see the job market is taking off for the developers and teachers as well.

  • Michael A. Sullivan

    I learned that E-Learning is never going away. I think that one thing that educators need to keep in mind is engaging the audience with E-Learning. I have used a variety of e-learning tools and the biggest challenge I find is how the designer includes information, this skill cap shows the lack of diversity. I look forward to seeing how companies address this problem and most importantly how they will engage members in that training.

  • This article is a positive reminder of the job market that awaits MATD students. As businesses look for cost effective and convenient ways to train employees with increasingly tight budgets, e-learning is logical solution. Hiring the right talent to create and support eLearning programs ultimately nets the company a positive return on investment because eLearning brings affordability and scalability to training programs, and it is a convenient delivery method with few barriers for participation and attendance. eLearning programs offer flexibility to attendees and ultimately tap into their own motivation to improve and advance within their jobs. As others have shared, this is not a trend but a new way of training and as such, graduates of program like Roosevelt’s MATD program are the cost-effective and efficient answer to businesses’ to talent and skill development in their organization.

  • I think that one thing has been left out! While some employees may have the ability or skill set to create e-learning with some training, many companies might also lack the time to give these employees the ability to successfully complete a robust e-learning program when they have none. With my current employer, they do not have anything at all and want to create e-learning for every aspect of the company. This can be extremely intimidating for any company with limited resources. I think more knowledge and resources for companies who do not have e-learning could help with awareness.

  • Although it was disheartening to read that there is a significant gap in the expansion of E-Learning within many organizations, it provides me great optimism that I gained the skills, knowledge, and experience from the MATD program to offer my desirable abilities to potential employers. At my current place of employment, we do not have a Training and Development department and the organization does not offer or utilize any e-learning courses. I spoke to the Vice President of the company on my willingness to help build a training department and design, develop, and train employees through ILT and e-learning courses. Unfortunately, the Vice President declined and stated that perhaps in a couple of years as the company is still growing. We have approximately 200 employees and I have seen productivity and performance suffer due to the lack of effective training resources such as e-learning.

  • Karolyn Rubin (Szymanski)

    The saying “Mind the Gap” is often used when conducting a root cause analysis to determine the actual problem at hand and the best solution that will ultimately lead to the desired outcome of results. There are huge gaps in the workplace in terms of the skills, knowledge, and know-how needed to support the design, development, and delivery to learners.

    The workplace environment has once again allowed the gaps of technology to widen further than their reach to successfully close them. The challenges that the workplace face today in terms of e-Learning platforms and their TD talent model to support it is no different than gaps companies experienced in the past in terms of hiring talent to implement a TD department to support classroom-led based learning.

    Organizations, in general tend to take the path of least resistance in terms of satisfying the minimum requirements of providing a level of training and development in the workplace. They do so without fully committing to the financial investment and resources to do it the right way in the first place. Or sometimes it’s merely a result of limited or no funds to support it. The catch twenty-two is leadership in organizations recognize the importance of training and developing their employees since the cost associated of not doing so far outweigh the training and development investment. The catch is it ultimately cost companies much more when not making the training and development investment due to employee turnover, client loss, and compliance infractions to name a few.
    When classroom-led training was “all the rage”, many companies cut corners by having their key employee lead the training, and yet future performance still was on the decline. Leadership learned that just because an employee excelled at their job, the ability to transfer their knowledge to new learners fell drastically short. Once companies made the investment of either hiring qualified TD practitioners, or used TD consultants as needed, did they see a vast change of performance improvement.

    Now, we are in the age of technology which is the catalyst for how people (in general) prefer to learn. The “need it now,” “how I want it,” “when I want it”, and “where I can get access to it” learning is the wave of the future, which is here to stay. Technology based learning platforms are outdated the minute it hits the market for general consumption because a newer, better, improved model is being launched. The supply of e-Learning platforms exceeds the demand of talent in today’s market to drive performance in the design, development, and delivery of information to the learner.

    While leadership may on the “buying bandwagon” to replace classroom-led training, with a form of e-Learning delivery (virtually-led, e-Learning self-paced modules), the people chosen to lead the TD process are once again, in most cases, are the same as those when classroom-led training programs were created. High level knowledge and talent on the subject matter with zero experience in training and development. The rate of employee failure rates will be as high if not higher than years past unless companies once again, hire inexperienced TD practitioners to design, develop, and manage the learning outcome and objectives for their employees.
    I’ve observed highly skilled individuals who were self-taught, or internally trained by other self-taught individuals with no formal training and development education. I’ve seen classroom-led IDPs and IGs converted into a virtually led training program without giving any thought as to how to deliver the materials for on-line training.

    I believe there are many opportunities ahead for TD practitioners with the formal education and knowledge learned during the MATD program. If I had a crystal ball, e-Learning will replace the majority if not all traditional classroom-led training programs.
    How are you going to help future employer’s or your client “Mind their Gaps” of e-Learning training and development in the workplace?

  • I have seen similar gaps in the previous organization I worked at. They used online modules to teach staff and they weren’t always the best learning experience. Some of the “learning modules” were PowerPoint presentations and lacked design and videos to facilitate learning. In short, it was basically a PowerPoint presentation for staff to read. The company lacked T&D professionals as well as the resources within the company to provide proper training to staff.

  • Carla Alvarado

    We live in a digital era where e-learning comes with many benefits towards education, training, and evaluation purposes. Many companies have less of an investment in training and a lack of support for employee learning and development. E learning can certainly help bridge that gap. As I was going through the hiring process at my current job, we had to watch some training videos and complete online modules to get us familiarized with using the software and how to perform daily tasks. And when I was transitioning from technician to intern, I had to do an interview online from home. In doing so, it was very time efficient worked well with my schedule. E learning is such an evolving concept that I am curious to see how institutions will continue to use as it develops in more depth.

  • Now a days E training is a great and very beneficial process. For many people E training could be very beneficial, due to the fact that you could do everything from home and not have to worry about traveling places. Through my job at CVS we do E training a few times a month and I could do it while sitting at home. It also is good for students who have a very tight schedule and could not make it to some classes

  • Eman Abdellatif

    E training is very convenient for employees now a days because they can do it from home or work and they do not have to worry about traveling.

  • As a pharmacy technician at CVS, we incorporate e-learning quite often. It is beneficial in that it keeps all of its employees aware of new regulations and any updated laws within the field of pharmacy. Although e-learning is effective in training its employees, many companies, near Detroit, don’t have this luxury, but are pushing towards implementing them in the near future.

  • May Alebraheem

    I feel that in this day and age where everything is moving so fast where companies, and businesses all around the world require technology to be their number one resource to be used and get the most accurate information. All people that do try to seek these types of jobs do need educational training on technology and eLearning. Not only I feel that technology moves people faster, but it definitely moves accurate information faster to people to be more productive and to have their work be more efficient. I know that in the field of pharmacy, technology is so essential because everything gets billed online with insurance, all the communications between physicians and pharmacist use technology, and all the records are kept online for accuracy. The information especially as a future pharmacist is iat our disposal from looking up medications, to drug-drug interactions, and other things that needed to be searched.

  • Wow this is a very interesting article and I am somewhat surprised that many organizations are having a difficult time finding the right candidates. It gives me hope to get back into an e-Learning management role once I graduate. I’m glad there will be a demand for this specialized skill set in the future.

    I can certainly say that I have seen a little of this gap in my organization. Some who hold the title of learning technology consultant or e-Learning specialist only work with one type of tool and don’t have knowledge of others or will do some analysis work and provide the content to an outside consultant to build the course for them. Which tells me they either don’t have the necessary skills or the time to do it. Hiring outside consultants to do this type of work for an organization may be cheaper for the company, but you are not building the skill sets for your employees.

    I’m working with a training team now in another country on a project and discovered their skill set is limited, not just from an e-Learning perspective, but from an instructional design perspective too. So, I am going to take the time to teach them and introduce them to another e-Learning tool, Captivate.

    Thank you for this article and have enjoyed reading the other comments.

  • It is great that this article clearly identifies the demand for a specialized focus specific to e-learning and the delivery. It is good to see that our curriculum is set to this arena particularly considering the demand there is in the current workplace today. It is important for our curriculum to stay up to date and provide our students with a wide variety of options to choose from. Students should be able to actively use this information to help them decide if they want to include e-learning within their skill set. It is great to see that our students can then see where and what area of the field they may want to enter.

  • This is an amazing article. It is impressive as how the ATD model could identify improvements needed to be done, as well as providing the tools needed to fix those improvements.

  • Alexandra Edwards

    Within the last 2 years, I have seen a greater emphasis on E-learning in my organization. There are more job postings in instructional design roles. Many of the on-going professional development is geared around e-learning platforms. The new hire training is an e-learning platform – the entire 2-week training is 100% virtual.

    • E-learning is gaining more importance each passing day as it trains individuals using the latest technology outside of a traditional classroom setting. The blog mentions an important point that many organizations were unable to expand E-learning as they simply did not have the resources to do so. With advancement in technology and the need to get the job done within a time constraint, companies are increasingly looking forward to incorporating new technologies which would lead to their growth. In order to understand and operate using these new technologies, there is a demand for employees who already know how to navigate them. Therefore, it is imperative to invest in an education program which trains is students in a e-skill set which would help them secure a strong career path.

  • I enjoyed how the ATD model works and the way the solutions are implemented. This is a great article to gain perspective on learning overall. Finally what a great skill set to add to your tool belt as far as e-learnig.

  • As a Pharmacy Intern at CVS, the company decided to incorporate e-learning recently in order to notify its employees of any new regulations or training. This was found very convenient by most of my co-workers due to the fact that the training can be done from home!

  • I am surprised at how many companies have not jumped on the E-Learning wagon by now. I have only seen some of this at my last job with American Airlines. We did training at work, but it was on the employee portal and was setup very nicely with graphics and such. My husband was doing little training sets on his cell phone at his last job and I thought that was amazing. They would give him gift cards for completing each set! I am excited to see how E-Learning will continue to enhance the workforce!

  • Nice Article. Thanks for sharing. I believe e-learning is a blessing in this work environment. Employee training programs are often one of the first areas in business to be cut because employers would often rather focus their time and energy on revenue development. This lack of training only further expands the skills gap. Businesses can use affordable eLearning platforms to develop skills and improve their own internal workforce. Most modern eLearning tools are flexible and customized to specific industries and very affordable.

  • Thank you for sharing, E learning has been a savior to all students throughout this pandemic. As humans we are lucky to be able to adapt, and have instructors dedicated to helping us stay consistent and motivated! Great article.

  • Technology and e-learning isn’t going anywhere, especially after the impact COVID has had on learning, schools, work, and communication. There will need to be further research and growth in the technology realm to help close the gap and further make technology applicable across the masses.

  • Ginger Ulloa-Enright

    It will be interesting to see where E-learning employment statistics land this time next year due to COVID with employees and students working remotely (i.e. how many new L&D positions were created by companies filling the gap).

  • What a great article about E-learning. Since the pandemic begin, many companies have had to switch to a new platform to conduct business and suddenly online became “the next big thing” which received a 50/50 approval rating where I work. Half of the employees hated moving to an online platform due to the lack of skills, knowledge and motivation; while the other half loved it. I love it! I have been involved with e-learning for some years now; it all seems less intimidating to me now.

    The organization I work for definitely is not equipped with the knowledge nor skills to switch gears. Our Training Department has been completely, “MIA”, absent in trying to embrace this new opportunity to move into the 21st century. They don’t see it as a game changer leaving those who don’t like is lost and those of us who love it forcing them to learn on their own.

  • I think that e-learning is important regardless of the industry or circumstances, as it offers access to digitalized trainings. People can take advantage of the fact that virtual content is easily accessible and able to be reviewed. This will help develop the workforce in skills that it lacks and overall improve performance. As for developing the content, perhaps companies can offer workshops or classes for employees who are eager or willing to learn about developing trainings.

  • I would definitely say there is an e-learning gap in my office. In the wake of Covid-19 I don’t think that the materials that were trained in person or face to face and possibly be made fast enough (while maintaining high quality) to keep up with the demands of training. When you consider that I work in an industry that has a rich and ever-changing regulatory landscape training is constant. It is clear that zoom trainings don’t have the same level of support that face to face or in person trainings had.

  • I think there is definitely a gap in e-learning in many organizations. To provide quality e-learning, you need to have the infrastructure to support it in place. Many facilities seem to be working with old systems and old technology, so e-learning is hard to provide in a quality environment. The cost to upgrade facilities to be ready for this type of e-learning environment can be incredibly high, and I think that has an impact on the gap as well.

  • Priscila Membreno

    What are your thoughts on the E-learning skills gap?
    This is very interesting. This post talking about the E-Learning skills Gap was posted 2018, right before the pandemic. Obviously because of the pandemic, many organization had to adapt quickly to doing all things online. It makes sense that there was a gap especially prior pandemic and now post pandemic, theres been a huge emphasis on this skill. I think we now truly learned the benefits to having and learning how to incorporating online content for individuals. Im sure there might still be a gap but I strongly believe we are currently bridging that gap at the moment !

  • I think the E-learning skill gap is starting to close now that there are more user friendly options for E-Learning content creation. Even LMS have started to incorporate content creation in among their platform or ensure they are compatible with top content creation applications. As content creation becomes easier I think there will still be the problem of ensuring the content is still built with sound instructional design and learning principles.

  • There is still a gap in e-learning in some organizations because they are still fixated on completing tasks and other priorities the old-school way. For example, my last employer was still printing everything on paper and distributing physical documents such as the employee handbook and policies and procedures during annual orientation and training. They had a hard time transitioning to digital and e-learning. I am fortunate to have moved on to an organization that fully supports e-learning, as most of our workers are working remotely. E-learning would benefit all organizations, fields, and industries since it can be accessible to everyone.

  • What are your thoughts on the E-learning skills gap? Do you see this in your organization?

    This was a great article. Reducing the gap of eLearning is a great method for organizations that want to compete in today’s market. In my organization, especially since Covid-19, eLearning has increased, as has become a meaningful tool for our leaders and our followers (online leadership development/ training courses more convenient and accessible). At first, there was a major pushback against eLearning in our organization, especially from our older employees. As of today, our organization, especially our stakeholders, sees eLearning as an effective tool.

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